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Predators goalie Rinne out 3-5 weeks with knee sprain

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne will be out 3-5 weeks with a sprained knee he sustained in the game Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks, the team announced Thursday.

Rinne will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, which ends Jan. 26.

Rinne leads the NHL with 29 wins and was named to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game after missing 51 games last season with a hip infection.

"It doesn't change anything as far as we go," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I mean it's tough to lose players. We've been on a little streak here where we've lost some players with [Eric] Nystrom being out, [Ryan] Ellis being out, [Taylor] Beck and [Matt] Cullen were out for a little bit. Nothing really changes as far as the game plan goes."

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Rinne has put together a Vezina Trophy-caliber season to this point, with a 1.96 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

"Well, he's not dead," Laviolette said. "He's coming back, so we're going to see him at some point. I don't think anything changes the start of his year. I don't think anything will change once he comes back either. It's a setback, but we'll get over it as a team. He'll get over it as a person, and he'll jump back in there."

Backup goaltender Carter Hutton has appeared in six games this season, with an 0-3-2 record. Nashville recalled goaltender Marek Mazanec from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

Hutton stopped all 10 shots he faced in relief of Rinne on Tuesday in Nashville's 5-1 win against Vancouver.

"You never want to see a guy like Pekka go down," Hutton said. "You never want to see anyone get hurt, but that's the way it goes. I've been through it last year, and it's one of those things where I just focus on playing my game."

Hutton was 20-11-4 in 40 games last season, which was his first full season in the NHL. He has played sparingly this season, appearing mostly in the second half of back-to-back sets.

"It's a mechanical position," Hutton said. "The more you play, the more you get in a rhythm. I understand my job here. At the time, Pekka was playing really well. Our schedule is pretty set out. We had a lot of Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday games where I didn't get a chance to play, and then we had some back-to-backs where I got in there. It's one of those things where you prepare all the time."

Mazanec appeared in 25 games for Nashville last season, with an 8-10-4 record, 2.80 GAA and .902 save percentage.

"I think it will help me a lot because now I know what to expect from this League," Mazanec said. "I don't know how long I'm going to be here, but I'm going to try to do my best, be a good teammate and learn from the guys."

Mazanec was named NHL Rookie of the Month for November 2013 after going 5-4-1 with two shutouts, a 2.00 GAA and a .933 save percentage. He is 4-0-2 in his past six AHL starts, including a 27-save shutout in his last start against the Rockford IceHogs.

"We won a few games and did a great job down there," Mazanec said. "It's all about winning."

The Predators host the Washington Capitals on Friday at Bridgestone Arena. Former Predators coach Barry Trotz will return to Nashville for the first time as an opposing coach.

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