Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne and Finland fell 5-2 to Russia in the gold medal game of the 2014 World Championships.
The 34-save effort led the Finns to their first medal at the Worlds since 2011 and seventh silver all time. The 31-year-old in net confounded the Russian forwards numerous times, but second period tallies from Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin helped to swing the momentum and lead over to Rinne’s opponent.
His familiar navy and gold pads framing a white Suomi jersey, Rinne turned away dozens of in-tight chances in the game’s first 30 minutes and the underdog, Team Finland, clung to a 2-1 lead. Over the next 10 minutes, however, back-to-back goals from Ovechkin and Malkin ended up being the difference.
With only three NHL players on the roster, Finland needed their most talented player to be at his best today, and that’s just what Rinne was for the Finns. The goaltender was nimble in net, giving Finland a opportunity to pull off an impressive upset.
Despite a loss in the final game, Rinne’s time in Minsk, Belarus, has been fruitful.
The netminder posted three shutouts in the tournament, including a 20-save blanking of the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Rinne’s loss to Russia ran his record to 5-3, which also included a win over Canada.
Today against Russia, the normal star in net for the Predators looked a lot like he did in the club’s 2011 playoff run, one of the best stretches of his career to date. After an injury-riddled 2013-2014 NHL season, where Rinne missed 51 games, the strong performance at the World’s was especially meaningful for the goaltender.
Rinne looked rusty at times after his return from a hip injury near the end of the NHL season, so his stellar performance for Finland should give Nashville and the netminder confidence going forward.
It appears Rinne will be coming into training camp this fall the healthiest he’s been in a couple seasons. That’s a huge boost for a Predators team trying to make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.