Goalie nods: For big test versus Stars, Preds give Hutton second straight start

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Well, this one’s interesting.

The Nashville Predators, holding onto the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, are giving backup Carter Hutton his second straight start tonight when they host West’s top team, Dallas, at Bridgestone Arena.

Hutton was in goal on Saturday and made 22 saves in a 5-0 shutout win over Florida. Overall, he’s played well when called upon — in his last three starts, he’s posted a 0.33 GAA, .987 save percentage and two clean sheets.

So, statistically speaking, it makes sense to go with Hutton this evening.

But it’s still raising eyebrows in Nashville…

This has not been a good year for Rinne, who last lost four of his last five starts, allowing 17 goals on 122 shots (an .861 save percentage). Overall, his .902 save percentage on the season is alarming, which could be why head coach Peter Laviolette is throwing caution to the wind by starting Hutton against the Stars.

If the career backup can produce a result against Dallas — a team that thumped Rinne and the Preds 5-1 last time out — Laviolette could have a semi-legit goalie controversy on his hands.

For the Stars, it looks like Antti Niemi will be in net.

Elsewhere…

Jonas Hiller, who’s now Calgary’s No. 1 with Karri Ramo out injured, goes for the Flames as they host the Ducks. No word on an Anaheim starter yet, but Frederik Andersen seems very likely given John Gibson is nicked up, and Anton Khudobin was just recalled from AHL San Diego.

Al Montoya gives Roberto Luongo the night off as Florida hosts Pittsburgh. No Penguins starter yet.

James Reimer will go for the Leafs tonight, in a tough assignment in Chicago. The ‘Hawks are also giving their starter the night off, as Scott Darling starts ahead of Corey Crawford.

— Quebec native Louis Domingue gets the start against his hometown team as Arizona hosts the Habs. No word yet on a Montreal starter.

Jacob Markstrom gets back into the Vancouver net after stopping 29 of 30 shots in a win over Colorado last week. No confirmed Wild starter yet.

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