Pekka Rinne: Predators Fans Worry After Goaltender's Career-Worst Showing Against Oilers

Veteran goalie Pekka Rinne returned to Bridgestone Arena and his post as the Nashville Predators top goalie on Monday night, marking his first time playing since Feb. 21. The fans in attendance were excited to see him back on the ice, but their attitudes changed following a disastrous third period. Rinne allowed a career-worst eight goals in three periods before being pulled from the action.

The Edmonton Oilers took a 3-3 tie and turned it into an 8-3 victory on Monday night after finding success against the veteran goalie. The fans responded with concern that Rinne's best days might be behind him after suiting up for his 659th game.

"I love Pekka Rinne. A lot. But it is time for the Juuse Saros Era of Nashville Predators history to begin," one fan wrote on Twitter after watching the loss. Rinne is a beloved figure in team history, but the fans think it might be time for him to hang up the skates.

"Watching Pekka walk down the tunnel just broke my heart I think. He looked so defeated," another fan added. Losing to the Oilers was not enjoyable for the fans, but watching one of their favorite players look so dejected only added to the heartache.

The veteran goalie only allowed three goals against the Edmonton Oilers during the first two periods, but he struggled during the third. He allowed five goals in a 5:13 span prior to being replaced by Juuse Saros.

This is only the second time in Predators' history that the team has given up eight goals in a game at home. The last time this happened was in 2006 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Predators coach John Hynes was not happy about the loss but refrained from putting blame on Rinne during his postgame media availability.

"Tonight's intensity level, passion level, engagement level … we played an easy game," Hynes said. "Looked like we wanted an easy game, and that's not going to win this time of the year. So we got punched in the face today pretty good and certainly got what we deserved. If we show up to play like we played tonight, that's lots of times what the result is going to be this time of year."

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Saros has started 11 of the Predators' previous 16 games, and the fans believe that this trend will continue while the team remains in the hunt for the playoffs. They adore Rinne due to everything that he contributed to the team in his career, but they also worry about the end being near.

Photo Credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images