Goalie nods: With Rinne hurt, Preds turn to Mazanec


It’s a significant night of change for the Nashville Predators.

Pekka Rinne, fresh off being named the NHL’s third star of the week, has suffered a lower-body injury — one that will keep him sidelined day-to-day — meaning Marek Mazanec will make just his second start of the year on Tuesday in Toronto.

Mazanec, who inherited the backup gig from now-departed Carter Hutton, has struggled this year, posting a 5.06 GAA and .806 save percentage. Those struggles led to Nashville recalling prospect Juuse Saros from AHL Milwaukee last week, after Saros had previously done well — back on Oct. 22, he stopped 34 of 35 shots in Nashville’s 5-1 win over Pittsburgh.

So needless to say, the pressure is on Mazanec just a bit.

In terms of the big picture, though, the loss of Rinne is the main focus. After some erratic play to start the year, the veteran Finn looked terrific last week, posting a 3-0-0 record with a 0.67 GAA, .976 save percentage and one shutout.

Given how uneven Nashville had been to start the year, it was an important series of performances.

For Toronto, Frederik Andersen gets the start tonight.


Craig Anderson, who’s been red-hot in November (1.77 GAA, .947 save percentage) will go for Ottawa. The Flyers will counter with Steve Mason, who should be the No. 1 for the foreseeable future with Michal Neuvirth sidelined by injury.

Aaron Dell makes just his second start of the year when the Sharks take on Carolina. Cam Ward appears likely for the ‘Canes.

— Rarity for the Caps, as Philip Grubauer will make his second straight start (Braden Holtby faces the Penguins tomorrow). Host Columbus is going with Sergei Bobrovsky, as per usual.

— Marquee matchup in Montreal, where Carey Price and the Canadiens host Roberto Luongo and the Panthers.

Ben Bishop is expected to get the start for Tampa Bay, after Andrei Vasilevskiy shut out the Islanders last night. The Red Wings will give Jimmy Howard a breather, and go with Petr Mrazek. Mrazek replaced Howard in Saturday’s ugly 5-0 loss to Montreal.

— It’s Corey Crawford versus Connor Hellebuyck, as the ‘Hawks begin their annual Circus Trip in Winnipeg.

— Calgary gives Brian Elliott the night off, meaning Chad Johnson faces the Wild in Minnesota. He’ll be up against Devan Dubnyk, who has been terrific this season.

Jake Allen, hooked after allowing four goals in a disastrous 8-4 loss to Columbus on the weekend, is back in for the Blues. He’ll be up against Robin Lehner, who gets the start for Buffalo.

— Tale of two very different goaltending situations in Dallas: Cory Schneider, one of the big reasons for New Jersey’s surprising start, goes for the Devils. He’s likely to face Antti Niemi, after Kari Lehtonen allowed five goals against Vancouver on Sunday.

— After making 44 saves in a loss to Boston on the weekend, Semyon Varlamov is right back in for the Avs. The visiting Kings are expected to go with Peter Budaj.

— Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom gets another shot at the Rangers, after beating them at MSG last week. No word yet on New York’s starter.

John Gibson was the first goalie off at Anaheim’s skate this morning, so he appears likely. The visiting Oilers have yet to announce a starter.

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