Rinne is expected to start as he tries to lead the Predators to a sixth straight win Tuesday night when they host Theodore and the Wild.
Rinne made 22 saves in a 4-1 win over Minnesota (21-16-5) on Dec. 31. He’s given up one goal in winning each of his last four starts, including a spectacular 42-save effort in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at San Jose.
“Our goaltender stole this one for us,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We battled pretty hard but we looked like a tired hockey team.”
Rinne has made at least 40 saves in back-to-back games after not having to do so in any of his first 24 starts.
Nashville (22-13-6) last won six straight March 12-21, a run during which Rinne had a 1.15 goals-against average. Since that six-game streak, he hadn’t won more than two consecutive starts until winning his last four.
The Predators won five in a row Dec. 8-17, then lost their next five before this current run.
“We’ve been streaky,” said Rinne, 3-2-1 with a 2.81 goals-against average in six starts against Minnesota. “Hopefully we can turn that around. It’s frustrating when you play like that. If we want to be one of the top teams, we have to be more consistent. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Rinne has shut out the Wild the only two times he’s started against them in Nashville.
Minnesota, though, will be looking to win four straight on the road for the first time since a five-game run March 8-17, 2007. The Wild are 11-6-3 on the road after going 13-24-4 last season.
“I think there is a confidence right now when we go out on the road, which we didn’t have last season,” coach Todd Richards said.
Theodore made his fifth straight start in place of Niklas Backstrom(notes), out with a lower-body injury, in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Dallas. The backup had a 1.75 GAA in winning his previous four starts.
He’s 5-0-0 with a 1.83 GAA in six career games against Nashville, including 32 saves in a 5-2 victory Nov. 26.
Theodore has helped the Wild kill off all 17 of their opponents’ power-play chances in the last six games. That wasn’t the issue Sunday as Minnesota’s four-game win streak ended mainly due to a lack of energy.
The Wild fell behind by two goals in the first period and were shut out for the first time since Nov. 29 in their fourth game in six days.
“No excuses at all,” Richards said. “There was a way to win the game tonight, and we weren’t able to execute that. Our tanks were low, but I think that’s when you have to play a smart game. The first thing to go when fatigue sets in is your mind, and we did some uncharacteristic things, as far as how we’ve been playing hockey.”