Nashville backup goaltender Pekka Rinne was able to step in on short notice and keep the Predators rolling in their last game.
He’ll be between the pipes again Monday, looking to extend his undefeated record as he leads the Predators against the Central Division rival St. Louis Blues.
Nashville (14-10-2) has won three straight and improved to 8-3-1 since Nov. 11 with a 1-0 win over Minnesota on Saturday - the second time in three games the Predators have shut out an opponent.
Rinne was in net for both of those shutouts. He was expected to be the backup on Saturday, but usual starter Dan Ellis took a puck off his knee during the morning skate and was unavailable. Ellis is expected to back up Rinne on Monday, and coach Barry Trotz said he’s hoping Ellis will be ready to go on Tuesday against Vancouver.
“It was a charley-horse type of effect,” Trotz said of Ellis’ injury. “That is something a goaltender can’t play with. It has been a good start for Pekka. Now we have both goaltenders doing really well.”
Rinne is 6-0-0 with a 2.25 goals-against average in eight starts this season. He’s the only undefeated NHL goalie that has played more than two games. He recorded a season-high 32 saves in Saturday’s victory while J.P. Dumont scored the game’s only goal midway through the third period.
“It’s awesome to have two shutouts, but it also says something about the whole team and our team defense,” said Rinne, who has started four of Nashville’s last five games and is 4-0-0 with a 1.24 GAA during that stretch. “I feel totally comfortable, but it is never just the goalie. The guys are doing a great job in front of me. That’s makes it a lot easier for me.”
The Predators are looking to win four straight for the first time since Feb. 24-March 3, 2007. They’ve lost in regulation and in a shootout to St. Louis this season, getting outscored 6-2. Before that, Nashville had won five straight over St. Louis.
The Blues (11-11-3) are coming off a 4-3 win over Phoenix on Saturday that snapped a two-game losing streak. David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Keith Tkachuk and B.J. Crombeen each scored for St. Louis, which had lost four of five.
“It’s fun to be around the net and score some goals,” said Berglund, who has three goals and three assists in the last five games and 13 points in the last 12. “The important thing is we got two points, and hopefully we can move forward.”
The Blues trailed 2-1 Saturday after Phoenix scored early in the second period. They then scored three goals over an 8:33 span. The night before, St. Louis had blown a 2-0 lead before losing 4-3 to Calgary in overtime.
“We don’t do things easy,” coach Andy Murray said. “It’s going to be a battle every night and it was again.”
Tkachuk scored twice in St. Louis’ home win over the Predators on Oct. 10. He is second on the team in goals (12) and points (18).