Pekka Rinne hits elite milestone with win over Sharks.
The Nashville Predators dominated the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night by a count of 7-1. The victory itself was impressive in its own right, but outside of the dominant scoreline, the story of the night was Pekka Rinne earning his 300th career NHL win.
Rinne is now the 34th goaltender in NHL history to hit the 300 win mark and is just the third Finnish netminder to conquer the feat as he joined Kari Lehtonen (305 wins) and Miikka Kiprusoff (319 wins) in the record books.
The 35-year-old was emotional during his on-ice interview after the game after earning first star honors on his very special night. “It surprised me, I didn’t want to cry to be honest with you,” Rinne explained after the game. “The crowd’s reaction, in those moments you take a look back and you know your parents are watching the game and stuff like that.”
Being named the number one star of the night after securing his 300th NHL win, #Preds Pekka Rinne displays some raw emotional in his chat with @KaraHammer down at Nashville's bench postgame. What a guy! pic.twitter.com/TUVJsK8g0D
— FOX Sports Tennessee (@PredsOnFSTN) February 23, 2018
Rinne’s teammates made things rather easy on Thursday night and he was sure to recognize them in the postgame. “I think a bunch of the guys knew about it and it was something I think guys were focused on too,” Rinne said. “San Jose didn’t have a lot of scoring chances tonight and it was a fairly easy night for me.”
The big Fin finished the night with 33 stops on 34 shots faced as he improved to 31-9-4 on the season.
The Predators got off to an extremely fast start as it took them just 1:55 to get the scoring going. After receiving the puck from Roman Josi behind the net, Nick Bonino pulled off a wraparound move to light the lamp.
Nashville doubled up its lead late in the first period with Bonino getting on the scoring sheet in a different fashion as he slid a pass to a streaking Scott Hartnell as the veteran was able to score his 10th goal of the season.
— p-Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) February 23, 2018
The Sharks and Predators each killed off a minor penalty in the first period. The Predators carried a 2-0 edge into the first break with an edge in the shots on goal category, 15-10.
The second period got a bit more chippy between the two clubs and San Jose was able to battle its way back into the contest. Less than nine minutes into the frame, Logan Couture scored his 25th goal of the season as he snuck the puck between a well positioned Rinne and the goal post.
The Sharks continued their push and put together a strong stretch of play following the goal, but the Predators answered back to re-take their two-goal advantage.
With 4:03 left in the period, Kevin Fiala led a 2-on-1 rush alongside Craig Smith, but Fiala elected to go to the net with the puck and it paid off well as he slid the puck through the five-hole of Aaron Dell.
The third period was all Predators and it was all Predators fast.
Just under four minutes into the final period and while on the power play, Viktor Arvidsson lit the lamp to make it a 4-1 affair. Less than three minutes later, Ryan Johansen got in on the scoring action himself for what was his eight goal of the season.
The scoring barrage wasn’t close to slowing down at the 5-1 mark of the contest. With nine minutes remaining, Filip Forsberg found a wide-open Mattias Ekholm out in front on a rush play seconds after Nashville killed off a penalty and the Swede buried the chance. The scoring was finally over with 2:09 left in regulation after fellow Swedish forward Calle Jarnkrok buried his 15th goal of the season on an unassisted effort.
When it was all said and done, the Predators managed to outshoot the Sharks 46-34 while 12 different Predators recorded at least one point on the night.
Perhaps the most memorable moment during Rinne’s postgame press conference was him elaborating on his history in Nashville with a huge smile on his face. “I was 22 when I came here then spent three years in Milwaukee and now 10 years here and it’s my second home, Rinne said. “It’s where I’ve spent my adulthood and grown up as a man and as a person.”
He then dropped the subtle hint that he’s not done yet. “Hopefully one day I can end my playing days here, but that’s far ahead.”
Pekka Rinne and the Predators take on the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon with the puck set to drop at 11:00 a.m. CST at Bridgestone Arena.