Storybook Win for Pekka Rinne in Nashville Predators Season Finale

May 10, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) celebrates with teammates after a shutout win in what could be his final home game as a starter against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) celebrates with teammates after a shutout win in what could be his final home game as a starter against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

If anyone thought hockey wasn’t/isn’t a magical sport, show them the Nashville Predators game on Monday night, their final game of the 2020-21  shortened regular season, and what could be a send-off for the man, the myth, the Predators legend, Pekka Rinne.

Against a team they’ve struggled against all season, the Predators put together a resounding victory in front of Rinne in what many hope will be a sign for the bright future in the young talent on the team.

There were a lot of tears shed – happy tears – but while we don’t know if this was truly Rinne’s last regular season game for the Nashville Predators, if it was, he got a one hell of a sendoff.

The Setup for the Nashville Predators’ Night

I could list all the people who were out tonight, but it’s easier to share what the Predators tweeted pre-game:

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Due to many starters getting a rest, the Smashville faithful got to get a good look at some familiar faces, but ones we don’t see quite as often.

Rocco Grimaldi, Rem Pitlick, Mathieu Olivier, Michael McCarron, David Farrance, Jeremy Davies, and Tyler Lewington were all called upon tonight, and for some of them not being seen for quite a while until tonight, they played one heck of a game.

This game wasn’t just about who was on the ice, but all the conversations taking place around and off the ice as well.

Rinne still hasn’t made his decision on what his next move will be, and the emotion that comes with the uncertainty was palpable.

Need an example? Check out this picture of Rinne interacting with his son, sweet Paulus Oliver Rinne, wearing a No.35 Nashville Predators jersey emblazoned with “DADDY”:

Yeah…we’re all crying. It’s ok to let it out.


The Tribute on the Scoreboard

Monday night was truly an emotional rollercoaster due to Pekka Rinne, the circumstances surrounding him, and his amazing shutout performance, but the night was also driven by elation due to the Nashville Predators offensive outburst.

Not only did the Nashville Predators get a win, but they did so with authority. They never took their foot off the gas, either.

Kicking off the scoring was a player who has been scratched due to the logjam of serviceable forwards on the team. On Monday night, Grimaldi got his ice time, and he made every bit of it count.

Grimaldi is many things, a spark plug being one of them, but if you had said before tonight “excellent penalty killer” I would have laughed…then he did this:

This wasn’t just a goal; it was a short-handed effort against one of the best power play teams in the NHL, which was an absolute statement.

The savagery, to hit the breaks and snow Petr Mrazek before punching it in for the early lead, is just amazing. For a player fighting for ice time, Grimaldi’s effort Monday night is a message well received.

Speaking of players who needed to make a statement before going into the playoffs,

Matt Duchene

had himself an outstanding night as well. Not to be outdone by the amazing effort from Grimaldi, a little over two minutes later, Duchene scored one of the prettier goals we’ve seen this season:

I mean, just amazing. The pass from Ryan Johansen was elite, but to play the puck like it’s on a string, the handles, the finish, that deserves a *chef’s kiss*.

The thing is, Duchene wasn’t done. Looking to build on the 2-0 lead and get his second multi-goal game of the season, Duchene came out in the second period and notched another goal.

The Predators were about to go on the power play as Rinne skated off the ice for the extra attacker. Enter Duchene. In a gritty and determined play, he was able to find the back of the net off the effort of Nick Cousins and Brad Richardson to make it 3-0 for the Predators:

Duchene is the type of player who could be a big difference maker if he gets hot at the right time, and that seems to be exactly what he’s doing.

Duchene’s linemate for the night,

Ryan Johansen

, also had himself a night, first with an assist on the first Duchene goal, and then with a goal of his own in the second half of the second period off a beautiful setup from Stacheburg himself,

Filip Forsberg

to make it 4-0 in the second period:

Wrapping up the scoring spree for the night is a player many have grown to love: Tanner Jeannot.

Talk about a work horse, an undrafted free agent, works his way up through the minors, makes it to the NHL, and just relentlessly pursues victory – it doesn’t get much more blue-collar, much more SMASHVILLE, than Tanner Jeannot, and here’s why:

That goal is nothing but pure hustle – it would have been impressive 5 on 5, but this was the second shorthanded goal of the night, and the cherry on top of the 5-0 victory sundae.

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The Hockey Gods Smiled Upon Pekka Rinne

They say the universe has a funny way of showing us signs, and tonight, there were signs aplenty.

Tonight marked Rinne’s 60th shutout, and his 369th win for his career. Very few have generated as much energy and as many Smashville standing ovations as Rinne, including tonight.

Rinne’s 369th win moved him into a tie with Tom Barasso for 19th place all-time in NHL history.

Looking at the numbers on the scoreboard, you can see just how crazy Monday night truly was, and how the Hockey Gods smiled down upon the Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne made 30 saves. The Nashville Predators scored 5 goals. 30 and 5 make 35  for… No. 35, the number that will someday hang in the rafters of Bridgestone Arena.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a man so beloved by each and every one of his teammates like Rinne is:

The Nashville Predators will turn around and get to see a familiar foe after locking in their spot as the No.4 seed in the Discovery Central Division for the playoffs, as they face off against the No.1 seeded Carolina Hurricanes in a seven-game series.

The start date and time for the playoff series has yet to be announced, but rumors are it could be as soon as Sunday.

Now, I don’t know how things will play out in the postseason, and I’m not here to make predictions (yet), but when I look back on this season, I’m going to remember this night, I’m going to remember the grit and determination this team showed down the stretch to get back into the postseason, and I’m going to remember this amazing leader, goaltender, and Nashville Predators legend:

It’s hard to not tear up watching him take that lap, showered by the love of the fans. I don’t know if it’s farewell, but what I do know is that I speak for all of the Smashville faithful when I say…

We love you, Pekka Rinne.