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The Extra Point

Rinne's fine finale

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Change is never easy.

Time unfortunately catches up to all of us, whether we like to admit it or not.

All the greats, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Alex Rodriguez-all notable faces of their respective franchises-eventually had to hang it up.

That time may have finally come for Pekka Rinne.

For nearly two decades, Rinne has been the face of the Predators' franchise.

Over the last few seasons, Rinne hasn't been as sharp or logged as many starts as he did in his early years.

Rumors swirled this season whether or not he would hang it up, or the Predators will move on.

While nothing official has been stated on his future, Monday night's regular season finale against the Carolina Hurricanes sure felt like a fine sendoff for the best to ever suit up in Nashville.

Having secured a playoff berth in the game before, Rinne was given the green light to get one final start between the pipes in the regular season in front of a home crowd.

As if a march the playoffs wasn't enough, what possibly was his final regular season start in Nashville was nothing but special.

The 2018 Vezina winner looked as good as he ever has in the gold, recording 30 saves and taking the shutout.

He got early support from Rocco Grimaldi and Matt Duchene, who both scored in the first period.

Ryan Johansen and Duchene both added second period goals as well, giving Rinne plenty of cushion.

The final goal came in the third period by Tanner Jeannot.

It was the perfect script for someone who truly embodies the sport and everything it means.

Following the final buzzer, Rinne took a lap around the ice, raising his stick to honor the 40 % capacity crowd.

Prior to Monday's start, the rumor mill was abuzz, possibly stating Rinne would finish his NHL career before closing out his playing career with the Finnish national team.

"You probably couldn't have scripted it better," Nashville coach John Hynes said. "The last regular-season game, but no one's saying it's the last regular-season game for Peks. This team has to get ready for the playoffs, and Peks is a big part of it."

In his postgame press conference, Rinne, although emotional, kept the spotlight on the team as the Preds prepare for the first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

If Monday night was truly his last start, nobody deserved the storybook sendoff than a guy who has given a city and franchise his all more than Rinne.

Chris Sier is sports editor of the Times-Gazette. Email him at sports@t-g.com.

Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette.

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