The stat sheet says that Pekka Rinne made it look easy. The stat sheet is wrong.
Rinne set a Nashville Predators record for wins in a single season when he faced just 17 shots — and stopped 15 — in a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.
Only once in the previous 66 games had the Predators allowed fewer shots on goal. Colorado managed just three in the first period and no more than nine in either of the final two.
The final shot count was 31-17 in Nashville’s favor.
“It’s easier to play when you face more shots and kind of stay in the game all the time.” Rinne said. “[The shot total] is a sign of the fact that we play well. We didn’t give them much.”
Rinne improved to 37-14-7 on the season and surpassed the previous mark of 36 wins set by Tomas Vokoun in 2005-06. Earlier this season, Rinne broke Vokoun’s mark for career shutouts.
Rinne and Vokoun are the only goalies in franchise history to win as many as 30 times in a season. Rinne has done it in each of the last three.
With this victory, he also maintained his league lead, which currently is two better than Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury.
“The [scoring] chances in the game were pretty lopsided, according to our video coach’s count,” coach Barry Trotz said. “But it was a very uncomfortable game. … They hung around and hung around and [were] a crossbar away.”
One shot that did not register in the final tally came in the third period off the stick of forward Cody McLeod, who hit the crossbar behind Rinne when Nashville’s lead was one, 3-2. Rinne fell on the puck as it lay in the crease behind him to end that threat and made back-to-back saves with fewer than three minutes remaining.
“You always know they’re going to have a real good push at the end of the game,” Rinne said. “We managed the game really well even though they got close a couple times there [and] hit the crossbar.
“But we deserved a couple of those bounces.”
Chances are that no one would argue he deserves his place in the record book as well.