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Pekka Rinne ready for Predators' Game 6 'opportunity'

Pekka Rinne ready for Predators' Game 6 'opportunity'
Published On: Sun, Jun 11
May 9, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) against the San Jose Sharks in game six of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Why now?

That was among the thoughts goaltender Pekka Rinne had as he sat on the Nashville Predators bench on Thursday, pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

That is the kind of thought he has been clearing from his head to prepare for Game 6 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). The Predators trail 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. But they're back home at Bridgestone Arena, where they are 9-1 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Rinne is 2-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in the Final.

"This is our opportunity," Rinne said Saturday, "and I think you try to do anything in your power and prepare the best you can for this one."

Put this into broader context. Rinne was drafted in the eighth round (No. 258) in the 2004 NHL Draft. He spent three seasons with Milwaukee of the American Hockey League before he graduated to the NHL. He has spent nine full seasons in Nashville now, more than any of the other Predators. He's 34 and fully invested in this team, in this town, in this dream.

Until this year, he'd never made the Western Conference Final, let alone the Stanley Cup Final.

Game 5 wasn't simply Game 5. It was Game 82 of his season in terms of games played in the regular season and playoffs. It was Game 577 of his NHL career and Game 746 of his career in North America.

It was a chance to take a 3-2 series lead back to Bridgestone and set up a clinching scenario in front of tens of thousands of fans, from the stands to the plaza to Broadway and beyond.

And Rinne lasted 20 minutes.

"You're playing in the finals, the biggest stage in your career, and you're not happy obviously," Rinne said. "But I never take it personally. It's not about me. It's all about us. I try not to take it personally. The reasoning behind it, I always believe that it's to wake up the team. Of course sometimes if I'm not getting the job done, it's better to put the other guy in."

Read the complete news article here...

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