- Associated Press - Thursday, February 22, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - For a guy who was drafted 258th overall in 2004, Pekka Rinne has put together quite a career.

Rinne made 33 saves in his 300th NHL win and the Nashville Predators routed the San Jose Sharks 7-1 on Thursday night.

After being selected the game’s first star, Rinne was overcome with emotion as Nashville fans saluted him on the bench.

“I didn’t want to cry, to be honest with you,” Rinne said. “In those moments, you take a look back. You know your parents are watching the game. It’s pretty cool.”

Nick Bonino, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Hartnell, Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight. The Predators moved within one point of expansion Vegas for the Western Conference lead.

Nashville defensemen Roman Josi and P.K. Subban each had two assists.

All of Rinne’s wins have come with Nashville. He tied former Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun for 33rd place in NHL history.

“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,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “What you see on the ice is incredible. The person that he is is even better than that, so we’re fortunate to have a guy like that here.”

Logan Couture had the San Jose goal. The loss snapped the Sharks’ three-game winning streak.

“It didn’t feel like a 7-1 game,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “Obviously, we own it, that’s what it ended up being. 3-1 going into the third, we’re on the power play, I thought we were playing a pretty decent road game.”

Bonino scored the game’s first goal at 1:55 of the opening period.

Josi’s shot from the left point hit traffic in front and Bonino beat Sharks defenseman Dylan DeMelo to the puck near the left post. Bonino took it around the net and beat goalie Aaron Dell to the right post with a wraparound for his ninth of the season.

Hartnell made it 2-0 with 42.5 seconds remaining in the first.

From the right boards, Bonino made a no-look backhand pass to Hartnell, who was skating through the slot and tipped it by Dell.

Dell finished with 39 saves.

Couture shaved the Nashville lead in half at 8:39 of the second.

After skating the puck below the goal line on the right side, Couture lifted a seemingly harmless backhand toward the Nashville net and the puck somehow squeezed between Rinne and the near post for Couture’s team-leading 25th of the season.

Nashville regained a two-goal lead at 15:57.

Fiala carried the puck into the San Jose zone on the right side on a 2-on-1 with Craig Smith against DeMelo. Fiala attempted a forehand-to-backhand move, but lost control. The puck’s momentum carried it forward and it slipped between Dell’s pads.

“Obviously these games, they feel awful. They’re not fun to be a part of,” San Jose defenseman Brent Burns said. “It was like one of those just nightmare nights that’s no fun to play.”

Arvidsson scored a power-play goal at 3:49 of the third, his fourth goal in three games. Johansen scored 2:40 later from the slot. Ekholm made it 6-1 at 11:00 of the third and Jarnkrok concluded the scoring at 17:51.

Rinne’s teammates were thrilled to see him reach 300 wins.

“Ever since I got here, he’s been the backbone of this team and he does it night-in and night-out,” Ekholm said. “It’s a huge accomplishment and big congrats to him.”

NOTES: Smith had one assist, extending his point streak to six games. … Arvidsson played in his 200th NHL game. … San Jose went 0 for 5 on the power play. The Sharks have not scored with the man advantage in their last seven games. … The Sharks are 4-5-2 against Central Division teams this season.


Sharks: Visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

Predators: Host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.


More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

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