Nashville Predators netminder Pekka Rinne may be the best goaltender in the NHL. Last season, he led the league in goals saved above average, and so far this year, his goals against average is tops in the league at 1.96, with a .931 save percentage to boot. Rinne is incredible at his job, in short, but when he’s facing Vancouver Canucks wonderkid Elias Pettersson on a penalty shot, he might as well be a vending machine worker.
The enthralling Canucks rookie got taken down on a breakaway late in the second period of what wound up as a 5-3 win on Thursday night. That’s not a nice thing to do, but I love Mattias Ekholm for this slash, because it allowed a 20-year-old prodigy who can’t stop making awesome plays to go one-on-one with no distractions against the best of the best.
Faced with his first career NHL penalty shot, Pettersson took the opportunity to get as filthy as humanly possible, destroying Rinne’s sense of self with a fake to the backhand and a lightning-quick reversal for the goal. Watch Rinne’s head in particular to get a feel for just how bamboozled he was:
Give this kid the Calder right now.