Tha Sports Junkies 101

Pekka Rinne Rebounds to help Predators Even Series

Pekka Rinne Rebounds to help Predators Even Series Jason Mrachina/via Flickr

All-Star netminder looks like himself after first two shaky games


A big question lingered after the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final: what happened to Pekka Rinne? The All-Star netminder looked nothing like himself in Pittsburgh.

Rinne had allowed eight goals on just 36 shots through the first two games of the Final. This led to his Nashville Predators being down 0-2 in the series.

As is usually the case in these social media-driven media days, people began questioning the 34-year-old. Memes were made about his play. There were even some claiming back up Juuse Saros should start Game 3.

Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette, however, stuck with his No. 1 goalie for the pivotal Game 3. After the first period, there were still questions, though.

Rinne only allowed one goal in the opening period of Game 3, but did not look convincing. He wasn’t able to cleanly handle a few shots and gave up a few bad rebounds. All that changed, however, in the second period.

Pittsburgh tested Rinne in the second, throwing 13 shots on goal. The Finnish netminder was up to the task, stopping all 13 shots he faced in the period. He went on to make 27 saves on 28 shots in Game 3 to help the Predators cut their series deficit in half.


In Game 4, Rinne definitely looked like the Pekka Rinne we saw in the first three rounds of the playoffs.

While it was not an overly busy night for him, Rinne still made 23 save on 24 shots. His biggest came halfway through the second.

With the Predators up 2-1 midway through the middle frame, Sidney Crosby was sprung on a partial breakaway. Defenseman Ryan Ellis backchecked as hard as he could to not allow Crosby a quality scoring opportunity. This forced the Penguins captain to take a backhanded shot.

It was easily saved by Rinne, but he couldn’t cover the puck. Forward Bryan Rust came in to try and keep the puck alive, forcing Rinne to make another pad save. A scramble ensued and the puck came loose. With his back to the net, Rust backhanded the puck toward the goal.

Nashville defenseman Roman Josi was coming back into the play, marking Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel. Rust’s backhanded attempt appeared to be heading wide, but hit Josi’s stick, causing the puck to stay in the crease.

Guentzel got to the loose puck and muscled a backhander that appeared to head into the open net. Rinne, though, dove from his left to right and got his blocker on the puck to keep it out and keep his team ahead 2-1.

The Predators eventually got two more goals in the game to win 4-1 and even the series at 2-2.


With the series now at a best-out-of-3, Rinne’s play seems to have straighten itself out. The one facing questions now is Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray.

After giving up four goals in the series’ first two games, Murray allowed eight in the two games in Nashville. Despite the struggles, though, I expect the 23-year-old to be between the pipes in Game 5 back home.

While momentum rarely carries over during the playoffs, especially this playoff year, I’d expect Rinne to be better in Pittsburgh in Game 5. If he has fully regained his game and confidence, the Predators may be celebrating their first ever championship in the near future.

Game 5 is Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena at 8:00 PM ET.