Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has been nothing short of spectacular in the last seven games. The stat line speaks for itself: 6-1-0, 0.83 GAA and .967 save percentage. This run has not only put him in the discussion for the Vezina Trophy (again), but the Hart Trophy as well. He might be the early favorite for both awards.
With Rinne’s dominant run of late, it got us thinking about the best performances of his career. Here are five, in chronological order, that stand out as some of his more dominant…
February 28, 2009 vs. Detroit
Goaltenders usually aren’t a factor when their team wins by eight goals. Rinne was a factor in the Predators’ memorable 8-0 win over Detroit. Rinne really asserted himself as the No. 1 netminder late in the 2008-09 season, and this performance defined that great stretch. He made 30 saves, plenty of the highlight-reel variety from point-blank range, including this one…
January 8, 2011 at San Jose
The Predators were playing their third game in four days but were on a four-game winning streak heading into this tilt in San Jose. Barry Trotz and company needed Rinne to stand on his head, and he did just that in a 2-1 victory. Rinne was under siege all night long, as the Preds were out-shot 43-26, but he was up to the task. He’s had many games like this one where he has taken over in the third period, but this one stands out because of the opponent, the setting and a third period in which he was flat out unbeatable.
2011 Western Conference Semifinals, Game 2 at Vancouver
I don’t think too many Predators fans will soon forget Rinne’s performance in Vancouver during the 2011 playoffs. Through the first five (nearly six) periods of the series, the Predators had yet to score a goal. Somehow, Rinne kept his team in it long enough for Ryan Suter to tie the game late in Game 2 to send it to overtime.
That’s when Rinne really shined.
In the first overtime, he made some of the best saves a goaltender can make. He stoned Henrik Sedin from in close, then robbed Kevin Bieksa with a lunging blocker save. By the time the second overtime arrived, Rinne was in their heads, as he stopped Mikael Samuelsson while on his back. All of this before Matt Halischuk ended the game late in double overtime.
November 3, 2011 at Phoenix
Trotz called it the “goalie hat trick,” and it was so fitting.
On his 29th birthday, Rinne was rewarded with a seven-year, $49 million contract extension – just hours before he was set to take the ice in Phoenix. ‘The Eraser’, as the Predators’ coaching staff likes to call him, stopped all 35 shots that came his way that night. The Coyotes put pressure on Rinne the entire game, but he answered the bell each time, including a huge pad save on a Mikkel Boedker breakaway early in the game.
2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Detroit
Why pick just one game when he was dominant for all five games of this series? He ended the series with a 1.81 GAA and .944 save percentage.
In Game 1, Rinne made 35 saves (30 in the final 40 minutes) and had a miraculous, un-human third-period save on Henrik Zetterberg to preserve the lead…
Following the game he had a stem machine hooked up to his legs just to keep the blood flowing.
In Games 3 and 4, the Predators were out-shot by a combined 84-39 in the two games. That didn’t faze Rinne, who was stellar in propelling the Predators to victory in both contests to give his team a 3-1 series lead. Rinne wasn’t forced to stand on his head in Game 5, but he did make 21 saves in a 2-1 win to help the Preds eliminate rival Detroit.