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Goaltender Rinne hoping to start back-to-back games

by John Manasso

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has not played in back-to-back games since sitting out more than four months with a hip infection. But he said he felt good enough Saturday to play against the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville did not conduct a morning skate after getting in late following a 3-2 road win Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Predators coach Barry Trotz said after a team meeting that he had decided which goalie would start but did not want to make the decision public. Trotz said he had not spoken to Rinne at that point.

Rinne, asked if he felt healthy enough to play in consecutive nights, replied, "Absolutely."

"No issues," he said. "I think now I've had enough time to get back in kind of the game shape and all that, so I feel really good."

Rinne has played in five games since making his return on March 4 and is 2-3-0. On a three-game road trip earlier in the week, the Predators faced back-to-back games and Trotz elected to go with backup Carter Hutton, who earned a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

Nashville has won three straight following a four-game losing streak and is looking to continue a late-season push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Entering Saturday, the Predators sat seven points behind the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Rinne has a .925 save percentage and 2.19 goals-against average since returning and has not allowed more than three goals in a game.

"Obviously, it's important, back-to-back games, to listen to your body and see how it reacts," Rinne said. "I haven't played back-to-back yet so … but yeah, ready to go."

Facing a must-win situation practically every night, Trotz has his players treating every game as if it were a playoff game.

"I've told the guys, it's probably a long shot because of the three-point games and all that," Trotz said. "It's a little bit of a long shot but you never know."

St. Louis center Patrik Berglund injured his knee Thursday in a 6-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers but said he felt well enough to play.

Here are the projected lineups for the Blues and Predators:


Jaden SchwartzDavid BackesAlexander Steen

Vladimir TarasenkoVladimir SobotkaT.J. Oshie

Brenden MorrowPatrik BerglundSteve Ott

Chris PorterMaxim LapierreRyan Reaves

Jay BouwmeesterAlex Pietrangelo

Barret JackmanKevin Shattenkirk

Ian ColeRoman Polak

Ryan Miller

Brian Elliott

Injured: Jordan Leopold (ankle), Magnus Paajarvi (upper body)

Scratched: Derek Roy, Carlo Colaiacovo


Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Nick Spaling

Eric Nystrom - Colin Wilson - Craig Smith

Rich Clune - Paul Gaustad - Viktor Stalberg

Patric Hornqvist - Colton Sissons - Gabriel Bourque

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Michael Del Zotto - Ryan Ellis

Mattias EkholmSeth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Victor Bartley

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