NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 14: Gustav Nyquist #14 of the Detroit Red Wings tries a wrap around on goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in front of Predators defenceman Shea Weber #6 at the Bridgestone Arena on April 14, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Preds updates: Rinne (hip) MRI set for Thursday, Weber (eye) out vs. Canes

The Nashville Predators face significant uncertainty about the health of franchise cornerstones Pekka Rinne (hip infection) and Shea Weber (eye injury). They know that Weber won’t play on Thursday and could also know a lot more about Rinne’s situation, as the Tennessean reports that the goalie’s MRI is coming up tomorrow.

Back in early November, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that Rinne, 31, would probably be back around Dec. 25. Tomorrow’s results might clarify if that estimate was accurate or not.

The Predators originally went with Carter Hutton in net, but Marek Mazanec snared the temporary starting job, playing well enough to earn rookie of the month honors in November.

His record might be mediocre at 5-5-1, but his .930 save percentage argues that it hasn’t been because of poor goaltending. Even so, the Czech goalie is largely unproven, so Nashville would prefer to have its $7 million netminder in action.

Weber, 28, will miss his third game in a row as the Predators face the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Nashville has dropped three games in a row, leaving the Predators’ record at 13-12-3.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.