In Wednesday’s 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena, Rinne stopped 28 of 29 shots – a .966 save percent – passing Miika Kiprusoff for the most wins in NHL history by a Finnish-born player.
“A long time ago, it wasn’t even close to being on my mind,” Rinne said. “He (Kiprusoff) was well ahead of me and playing at a very high level. When I was just trying to find my way into the league, these are obviously the things you’re not focused on, but it’s pretty cool.
“When you’re fortunate and stay in the league a long time, you’re going to face some milestones and this one for sure is a cool one.”
Rinne’s 320thwin moves him into sole possession of 27thplace all-time, just one behind Cam Ward and four wins behind Sean Burke. What’s even more impressive is that Rinne reached the milestone in 43 fewer games than Kiprusoff and he has 43 fewer losses too.
“He was the first kind of Finnish superstar goalie and it was nice to play against him,” Rinne said of Kiprusoff. “Especially when I was younger, I really tried to watch him play and things like that. So, for sure, it’s cool.”
Kiprusoff only played for 12 years, while Rinne is in his 13thseason. However, head-to-head, Rinne’s numbers are better than Kiprusoff’s in every major statistical category, despite having played fewer games in one more season.
W L T GAA SV% SO
Rinne: 320 170 67 2.36 .919 53
Kiprosoff: 319 213 71 2.49 .912 44
“It was awesome (to watch),” Preds coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s been so important, not only this year, but all of the years here. It was really nice to see him reach that milestone and he’s just done a lot of good things for our franchise.
“I think, over time, when you win enough games you’ll start to knock down some records and he’s just awesome.”
In addition to the record, Rinne is also currently playing some of his best hockey. He ranks in the top three in the league in every major statistical goaltending category: wins (9, tied for third), save percent (.944, first), goals-against average (1.64, first), and shutouts (2, tied for second).
Additionally, Rinne has won his last three starts – all at home – putting an end to Nashville’s three-game skid and helping the Preds remain at the top of the Central division and top of the league.
The Preds will travel to St. Louis on Friday to take on these same Blues, whom they currently have a six-game win streak against.
“The last three games were really solid three wins,” Rinne said. “We’ve had to battle. They’ve all been tough games. Tonight was a big division game, too. On Friday in St. Louis, we face them again. You could see that it was starting to get more physical out there, and we’re expecting that same kind of game out there.”
“We lost some games and that’s a good way to reset, but I felt like we could’ve won all those games too,” Laviolette added. “We were up in San Jose. We had those chances in the end in Anaheim and I really like the way we played in Phoenix. It didn’t happen, but it’s about winning hockey games and I thought our guys just stayed with it.
“The leaders took over, we got back home, started picking up from the way we played in Arizona and started putting our foot down at home. It was good to get back on track and get some wins back in our building.”