Coach Barry Trotz wasn't very happy with the Nashville Predators' latest performance.
Having to play without his top goaltender for the next month might not improve his mood.
Playing without Pekka Rinne, the Predators attempt to rebound from their worst offensive showing of the season and continue their success against the visiting Jets on Thursday night.
Nashville (5-4-1) was held to a season-low 16 shots in a 2-0 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday after scoring 13 goals and averaging 31.8 shots during a 4-0-1 stretch.
"We just didn't come out with a lot of energy," Trotz told the team's official website. "We didn't manage the puck very well, we lost too many battles."
That hasn't been the case for his team against Winnipeg (4-5-1). The Predators are 7-1-1 over the past nine meetings with the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers. That includes Sunday's 3-1 road victory, during which Nashville did all its scoring on seven shots in the second period.
Patric Hornqvist had one of those goals - his team-leading third of the season - giving him four points in the past three matchups with the Jets/Thrashers franchise.
Backup Carter Hutton made 38 saves Sunday for his first NHL win in his first start of the season, and is expected to get another crack with Rinne sidelined.
Rinne will miss at least four weeks after he has arthroscopic surgery on his hip. The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist had surgery on his left hip May 9 and recovered in time to start the season.
General manager David Poile said Rinne felt something was wrong Tuesday night after the Predators returned from Minnesota.
'When he got back to Nashville after the plane ride home, he developed some soreness and stiffness in his hip and got a little bit of a fever,' Poile said. 'A series of tests determined that he had a spontaneous bacterial infection.'
The Jets are opening a four-game road trip after concluding a 2-3-1 homestand with Tuesday's 5-4, six-round shootout loss to Washington.
Coach Claude Noel's team hasn't beaten the Predators since Dec. 6, 2010.
"I think when we go into Nashville, we owe Nashville a game," Noel said. "We have to put our best foot forward and play the way we're capable of playing. The road is always good, especially early in the season. It gives your team a chance to build some cohesiveness in your group, and that's not a bad thing."
Continued production from Bryan Little would surely help. The center is tied with Evander Kane for the team lead with five goals, scoring twice against the Capitals to snap a five-game drought.
Little hasn't managed much offensively against Nashville, recording one point over the past five meetings and none Sunday while he was a minus-2.
Kane had a goal in that meeting and added an assist two days later. He has five points - four goals - over the past five games.
Winnipeg is 0 for 14 on the power play over the last five games and ending that skid won't be easy against Nashville, which hasn't allowed a goal while short-handed in six consecutive games, spanning 18 chances.
The Jets may not have to contend with Nashville's Mike Fisher, who has missed three straight games with a lower body injury. The center has five points in seven games.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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