The Predators (8-5-2) have taken each of their meetings with the Winnipeg Jets in front of goaltender Carter Hutton. Nashville coach Barry Trotz gave Rinne a night off when the teams met in Winnipeg on Oct. 20, and Hutton responded with 38 saves in a 3-1 win. Four nights later in Nashville, Hutton started again after a hip infection sidelined Rinne and delivered a 34-save performance in helping Nashville take a 3-2 overtime decision.
Hutton will start again for Nashville against the Jets (6-9-2) on Friday. The Predators arrived in Winnipeg fresh off a 6-4 road win against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, as they continue a coast-to-coast, franchise-record-tying seven-game road trip that will see them face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
"It's been a little different," Hutton said of his time as Nashville's No. 1 goaltender. "Obviously Pekka going down is a huge loss to us. He's a world-class goalie and a great guy, so it's tough. You don't expect that. You don't wish that on any [player]. But opportunities come your way … and so far it has been a fun ride."
The Predators, who sent rookie center Filip Forsberg to the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals and recalled left wing Taylor Beck on Thursday, will meet a Winnipeg team that has lost seven of its past nine games and absorbed a 4-1 thumping by the Chicago Blackhawks on the road Wednesday.
Left wing Evander Kane, who is second among Winnipeg scorers with six goals, missed the game Wednesday. According to Kane, he was a healthy scratch. However, coach Claude Noel said again Friday after the Jets' morning skate that he held Kane out of the game for health reasons.
Kane missed the Jets' 4-2 home win Monday against the Detroit Red Wings but made the trip to Chicago and participated in warm-ups before Noel scratched him. According to Noel, he met with Kane to discuss the situation, and Kane will play against Nashville.
"It was definitely surprising to me," Kane said Friday. "But that's part of being a professional. If you're in the lineup, you're doing your best to help the team win. If not, it is what it is."
Asked if Noel was trying to send a message, Kane said he didn't know.
"I have no idea. No idea," Kane replied. "But like I said, it's over and done with, and I'm looking forward to [the game Friday].
"I'm moving on. I'm happy to be on a line [Friday] with two other players and not by myself, so that's positive."
Asked to respond, Noel attempted to diffuse the situation.
"I respect Evander for his opinion," Noel said. "For me, Evander was a coach's decision with the protocol we follow. For me, it was an injury-related decision. I understand that he disagrees. It's his opinion."
After turning to backup goaltender Al Montoya for two games, Noel will return to Ondrej Pavelec, who has not played since the Blackhawks knocked him out in the second period with four goals against in a 5-1 home loss this past Saturday.
"Ondrej has given us tremendous effort and made some huge saves that have really kept us in some games," Noel said. "I want Ondrej to play the way that he is able to play. I'm not putting any more pressure on him to be any more than what he has been throughout the season. He has been very good for us."
Here are the projected lineups for the Predators and Jets:
Scratched: Victor Bartley
Scratched: Eric Tangradi