Updated 1:27 p.m. ET:
Initially ruled out ’til the All-Star break, Pekka Rinne will now be out of the Nashville Predators lineup for 3-5 weeks after seeing a doctor Thursday morning.
The 32-year-old netminder, who’s arguably been Nashville’s MVP this season, was injured during Tuesday’s win over Vancouver in what could be a disastrous turn for the Preds.
The NHL’s first-place club has been heavily reliant on Rinne this season, and he’s responded with aplomb by leading the league in wins (29) and minutes played (2230) while posting a .931 save percentage and 1.96 GAA.
The Preds know what life can be like without Rinne, too. He missed significant time last season due to complications from hip surgery and the team faltered in his absence, finishing with just 88 points while missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
As for the immediate future, Carter Hutton — who assumed No. 1 duties last year while Rinne was hurt — will move back into that role. He’s got some big tests on the horizon: Nashville hosts Washington on Friday before a pair of tough road games in Detroit and Montreal to close things out before the All-Star break.
Hutton has been used sparingly this season and his numbers aren’t great: 0-3-2 with a .905 save percentage and 2.60 GAA. Marek Mazanec has been recalled from AHL Milwaukee to serve as the club’s backup.