"I obviously understand that it might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I really enjoyed it," Rinne said with a smile. "It was an awesome feeling, seeing the puck go in. To be honest with you, I thought it was curving left a little bit, and then it took a little correction and it ended up in the middle. And then, I'm like trying to see, and then [defenseman Roman Josi] and [forward Nick] Bonino, they were going nuts.
"It was pretty cool. I just threw my hands up in the air and tried to act as cool as I could."
Rinne kicked the puck to his stick behind his goal line and lofted a shot that landed in the Blackhawks zone and bounced into the net with 21.4 seconds remaining in the third period. Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach missed in an attempt to deflect the puck. Rinne raised his hands over his head behind the net as several Predators players skated over to hug him.
"It was good timing, I guess," said Rinne, who made 29 saves. "We just scored (with 37 seconds left), it was a two-goal lead, and luckily the puck was flat on the ice and I was able to take a shot. I like to play the puck, so I mean it's something I've always dreamed of. So now I think the stars were lined up for me tonight."
There have been 15 goals scored by 12 NHL goalies; Martin Brodeur scored three for the New Jersey Devils, and Ron Hextall scored two for the Philadelphia Flyers.
"He's talked about that a lot, and I think it's kind of a goaltender's dream," Predators general manager David Poile said of Rinne scoring. "It was so cool. Obviously you saw our players' reaction for him. He's kind of been the face of our team for many, many years. So I'm really, really happy for him. It's kind of bragging rights when you do something like that."
Rinne is the first Predators goalie to score by shooting the puck. Chris Mason received credit for a goal as the last Nashville player to touch the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes on April 15, 2006. It is the first goal scored by a goalie against the Blackhawks.
The last goalie to score was Mike Smith when he was with the Coyotes, against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 19, 2013. He was also the last to do so by shooting the puck. Billy Smith of the New York Islanders was the first goalie to get credit for a goal, at the Colorado Rockies on Nov. 28, 1979. Hextall was the first to score by shooting the puck, against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 8, 1987.
"That was pretty cool," Predators center Matt Duchene said of Rinne's goal. "I've only ever seen it one other time. We had a goalie in summer hockey one year who scored, but [it's] pretty cool to see that in the NHL. That's elite. He's already in such an elite group of goaltenders in this league, he just added himself to another elite group.
"He's been so good for us this year and so nice to see him get rewarded with a great win, a great game, playing his position and obviously tucking one in too."
Video: Coyotes goalie Mike Smith's buzzer-beater
It's been a trying season for the Rinne (15-9-3, 3.02 goals-against average, .895 save percentage) and the Predators (20-16-7), who are five points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They got their first win Thursday with coach John Hynes, who was hired Tuesday after Peter Laviolette was fired the previous day.
"This has been a hard year for our team, and we've all -- players, coaches, management, specifically goaltending -- have come under more critique this year," Poile said. "Where we are, it's a huge win to try and get ourselves back in the playoff race. It's kind of the icing on the cake when the face of your franchise scores a goal.
"Who knows? Important goals, and we usually talk about a power-play goal or a game-winning goal or what have you, but maybe this is something that turns the team around? I'm certainly hoping that."
GOALIES TO SHOOT GOAL INTO EMPTY NET
Pekka Rinne, NSH; Jan. 9, 2020, at CHI
Mike Smith, PHX; Oct. 19, 2013, vs. DET
Evgeni Nabokov, SJS; March 10, 2002, at VAN
Jose Theodore, MTL; Jan. 2, 2001, at NYI
Martin Brodeur, NJD; April 17, 1997, vs. MTL
Chris Osgood, DET; March 6, 1996, at HFD
Ron Hextall, PHI; April 11, 1989, at WSH
Ron Hextall, PHI; Dec. 8, 1987, vs. BOS
Video: Memories: Hextall scores as a goalie in the playoffs
GOALIES TO GET CREDIT AS LAST TO TOUCH PUCK
Martin Brodeur, NJD; March 21, 2013, at CAR
Cam Ward, CAR; Dec. 26, 2011, vs. NJD
Chris Mason, NSH; April 15, 2006, vs. PHX
Mika Noronen, BUF; Feb. 14, 2004, at TOR
Martin Brodeur, NJD; Feb. 15, 2000, vs. PHI
Damian Rhodes, OTT; Jan. 2, 1999, vs. NJD
Billy Smith, NYI; Nov. 28, 1979, at COL
Video: Isles Billy Smith 1st goalie to be credited with goal