Pekka Rinne is not happy with his shootout record this season. If tradition holds, the Nashville Predators goalie will have plenty of opportunity between now and the end of the season to improve it.
Following two shootout losses — one each to last season's Stanley Cup finalists — in the last three games, Rinne's wins and losses in the tiebreaking format are even at three apiece.
"We need to have a better record," Rinne said. "I want to have a better record."
Typically, he does.
Rinne was 17-9 in shootouts over his first three seasons, a winning percentage of .654. He improved to 20-9 when he won three of the first four this season and at one point stopped 11 straight opposing shooters.
In the always tight Western Conference playoff race, every one of those points could be precious.
"You look at the whole league, and I'd like to know what the percentage of shootouts in the last 20 games or 30 games are. Teams tighten up. There are more one-goal games, more ties and there's more shootouts. I think you'll see that around the league, not only with us.”
When it comes to the Predators, a significant majority of their shootouts have taken place either near the start or the finish of the season.
Of their 65 between 2005-06, when the element was added to the NHL, and last season 44 of their 65 shootouts either took place in the first 21 games or the last 20. By comparison, only 21 occurred during the middle 41 contests.
Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m., Bridgestone Arena, Fox Sports-Tennessee) will be Nashville’s 57th of the season, and the final 20 games will start before the end of this month.
“Soon it's going to be the last 20 games and it always comes down to one-goal games,” Rinne said. “Usually it's a tight game in the third period, so I'm sure there's going to be some shootouts.”
Having allowed four goals on his last eight tries, Rinne’s save percentage in shootouts has fallen to .727 for the season, well below his .777 career average at the start of the season and his career-high of .794 from a year ago.
He never has finished a season with a losing record in shootouts.
“I enjoy those shootouts and I feel like I'm confident going in,” Rinne said. “Over the years, we've won the shootouts most of the time
“… I think those are huge points any time you win or lose a shootout. I feel like we have to be ready for it.”
And they have to be better than they were last week in the losses to Vancouver and Boston.
“It starts in goal,” Trotz said. “I think we can match our goalie up with anybody, and we prepare well for every contest. So we just have to execute and see if we can get that point when we find ourselves in that position.”