Pekka Rinne only needed one try to collect his 300th career NHL victory.
Rinne began the season with 269 career victories and has passed the likes of Ed Giacomin, Ron Hextall, Bernie Parent and others with his first 30 wins this year.
Thursday’s 6-1 victory put Rinne in select company, as his 300th victory meant tying former Preds netminder Tomas Vokoun for 33rd all-time.
The Preds dismantled a San Jose team that’s moving up in the Pacific Division despite the absence of Joe Thornton.
Nick Bonino started the scoring just 1:56 in, tapping in a wraparound against Aaron Dell after corralling a rebound of Roman Josi’s slapshot from the left point.
Bonino contributed on the second goal with a feed to Scott Hartnell, putting Nashville up 2-0 with :42.5 left in the first.
Logan Couture put San Jose on the board with a horrible-angle shot midway through the second period and the nap was on...
Craig Smith and Viktor Arvidsson had three really good chances against Dell midway through the middle frame, but the IT guy was having none of it after giving up a pair in the first.
Kevin Fiala created the third Preds goal all by himself, winning a battle along the half-wall in the defensive zone before skating in on Dell and pulling off Nikita Kucherov’s no-shot shot.
Viktor Arvidsson extended the lead 3:49 into the third period with his fourth goal in three games, scoring on a rebound of P.K. Subban’s slap shot from the right point.
Ryan Johansen made it 5-1 with his eighth goal of the season at 6:30 of the third, and Mattias Ekholm finished a nice passing play from Arvy and Filip Forsberg at the 11:00 mark.
Colton Sissons had a shorthanded breakaway chance that turned into a penalty shot, but was stopped by Dell.
Calle Jarnkrok added to the onslaught at 17:51, wiring a wrist shot past Dell.
The Preds have now exhausted all the games in hand they had against the Winnipeg Jets, and lead the Central Division by four points with a Sunday brunch faceoff looming against St. Louis.
- No, Martin Bell is not starting in goal for San Jose.
- But the Sharks are getting a Dell. Hello from the other side.
- Crafty work by Bonino to get the first goal on the wraparound.
- San Jose’s traditionally been pretty dangerous on the power play, and putting the Sharks on one so early, even with a lead, is not a sound idea.
- Neutral-zone turnover leads to Brent Burns coming right...up...the...middle. Luckily, his shot ski-ramped up over the glass.
- The “woo” brigade cranked things up less than 10 minutes into the game. Somehow, the Preds have dodged a bullet so far. They’re usually followed by an opponent goal within the next three minutes.
- Pretty good looks on the Preds’ first power play of the game.
- A random stick hurtles through space and somehow ends up in the net behind Rinne early in the second period.
- More “woos” in the second period. Salomaki called for high-sticking very soon thereafter...
- Austin Watson says “forget dumping the puck, I’m just gonna go.” I mean, if the Sharks are just gonna let him take off shorthanded, okay.
- Great pass from Fiala to spring Craig Smith on a breakaway, but Dell up to the task - and then he stops Smith again seconds later. Then a strong stop on Arvy. Yeah, those new Dells run well for a while, but...
- Kevin Fiala with his best Nikita Kucherov impression, and it was amazing. Dell locked up.
- Arvy just keeps on doing good things. That’s the kind of goal that happens when you get to the high-danger areas. Love it.
- Everybody’s getting to the slot. Joey’s turn. These are fun goals and a good indicator of how powerful this offense can be when they get in front.
- Just stop the damn match.
Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Fiala. Whether he meant it or not, his goal was a thing of beauty.
- Rinne. Reaching 300 wins is quite a rare achievement, and he’s deserving of that number.
- Bonino. That third line jump-started things early, and more of that, please.
Rinne on getting his 300th win:
“You don’t really set goals for yourself on how many wins you can win in your career, but it’s a number that’s a lot of wins, so I’m proud of it. I’ve been here for a long time for a lot of good teams, playing winning hockey, and I think that’s the biggest factor in my success.”
“I was 22 when I came here to this organization, spent three years in Milwaukee and now 10 years here. It’s my second home, it’s where I spent my adulthood and I’ve grown up as a man and as a person. Hopefully I can end my career here, but that’s far ahead.”
Ekholm on Rinne’s milestone victory:
“It’s a huge accomplishment. The way he conducts himself to the game and to himself to prepare every night to be at his best for a high percentage of the games that we play. Ever since I got here, he’s been the backbone of this team.”
On the seven-goal outburst:
“I think the last two weeks, we’ve gotten points, we’ve gotten wins, but I think there’s been periods and certain areas of the game that we’ve been playing really well. Tonight, I think we showed just what kind of damage this team can do, and playing like this, it could be a fun stretch.”
Peter Laviolette on Rinne’s 300th victory:
“I think everybody knew what was going on. Big night for him. One of many, right? One of 300. In his whole career, he’s just been fantastic, not only tonight, not only this year, but his whole career. He’s just been incredible for this organization the way he’s backstopped it for so many years with so much consistency. What you see on the ice is incredible, but the person that he is is even better than that.”
On the offensive output:
“It got a little bit out of hand. It was a 2-1 game for a long time. There were lots of chances that San Jose had where Pekka had to make big saves, and so it just got of hand there at the end.”
Tweets of the Night
watching subban skate into neutral zone, flick the puck back to a forward in the defensive zone, and everybody failing to make an entry, my favorite thing— Marya ➡ (@_marya_k) February 23, 2018
This is the Nick Bonino we wanted.— Dan D Bradley (@DanDBradley) February 23, 2018
If you’re one of the boys obnoxiously wooing during EVERYTHING I hope you’re walking barefoot later and out of nowhere a lego appears and you step on it. pic.twitter.com/GupKL2xzXp— Christina (@ctina352213) February 23, 2018
I SEE YOU TRYING TO START THE WAVE, 327... pic.twitter.com/lkS21IIb4y— Lady Preds (@Lady_Preds) February 23, 2018
This is what you want to see. pic.twitter.com/UuqIl96yQv— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) February 23, 2018
Not Preds-related, but deserving of a spot nonetheless: