The Nashville Predators retired Pekka Rinne’s jersey Thursday evening and I can promise you this: there wasn’t a dry eye in Bridgestone Arena.

But that was just the beginning of an incredible night. Not only did the Preds and their fans get to celebrate the fan favorite; Nashville also defeated the Dallas Stars in a shootout to win its 30th game of the season.

To make things even better, the Preds beat the Stars on Rinne’s big night and in front a sold-out Bridgestone Arena that housed a record-setting 17,869 fans.

That’s right. More fans showed up for Rinne’s celebration than they did any of the Stanley Cup Finals games against the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2017.

And with good reason. Rinne is the best goaltender to ever play in Nashville and he’s first player in Predators history to have their jersey retired.

Up next is a bronze statue of Rinne outside of Bridgestone, which will be epic in its own right. But before we get to that, let’s check out some of the best moments from Thursday night.

Recapping Pekka Rinne’s jersey retirement with the Predators

Fortunately, our own Alex Daughtery was able to cover the game. It was clear Thursday night was going to be a good one once we were able to get our eyes on the setup:

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The Predators made sure Thursday was Rinne’s night from the start. His jersey was hung in every player’s stall with the idea of paying homage to the legend:

Unsurprisingly, everyone backstage was ready to go. Even the smallest of Preds/Rinne fans.

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Rinne was all smiles, as usual.

There were plenty of reunions and man, did they bring back some good memories.

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Rinne even took some time to visit his old stall and reflect upon his career in Nashville.

Once the ceremony began, the Predators wasted no time in getting Rinne out on the ice. And of course, it was a perfectly-executed, heartfelt introduction in front of thousands of screaming fans:

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Speeches were given. Predators GM David Poile kicked things off with a very emotional speech. You could hear him fight back the emotions as he reminisced on his and Rinne’s relationship. Roman Josi followed up with a speech of his own.

Roman Josi gives a speech reflecting on his time with Pekka. Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

And then it was showtime.

Rinne’s speech was thoughtful, sincere, and bittersweet. It’s always tough to say goodbye to a player such as Rinne and that was felt Thursday night:

Then came the hanging of Rinne’s banner. The Preds went all out and it showed:

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And just like that, Rinne waved goodbye while walking off to Bobby Roode’s infamous Glorious Domination.

Take care, and thank you, Pekka. Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

And look, hockey is a very, very unpredictable sport. Anything can happen at anytime. But, we all knew the Preds were a lock to win once the entire team was seen sporting Rinne’s number during warmups:

And that’s exactly what they did. Juuse Saros’ strong night and Mikael Granlund’s game-winning goal led the Preds to a 2-1 victory and wrapped a very emotional night for all.

Can someone get the damn onions out of the room, please?

Featured image via-Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports