Finally, a shutout the Nashville Predators did not have to have.
Pekka Rinne tied Chris Mason for second in all-time shutouts by a Nashville goalie with his 12th [his second in a week] Thursday.
Unlike many of his others, particularly recently, this was not a game in which every save counted. Nor were many required, in fact.
Rinne equaled the franchise record for fewest saves in a shutout when he stopped 17 pucks in a 5-0 romp  — the Predators’ largest margin of victory this season — over the Minnesota Wild before 16,615 at Bridgestone Arena.
“There were obviously some scoring chances but not many shots (against),” Rinne said. “Obviously, I could see the puck. The guys made it really easy for me.”
Nashville’s five previous shutouts in 2009-10 — four by Rinne, one by Dan Ellis — included a total of just seven goals: two 2-0 victories and the last three each were by 1-0 counts, the most recent of which came when Rinne made 31 seven days earlier at Anaheim.
The Wild had been blanked only twice in 69 games and, theoretically, came into this contest desperate for a victory based on the fact that they were 10th in the Western Conference standings  at the start of the day, six points behind eighth-place Detroit and nine back of Nashville in seventh.
Their 17 shots on goal — four in each of the last two periods — were their third fewest this season.
“I thought the first two shifts we were just a little slow and a little sluggish, and I thought (Rinne) had to make a real good save (early),” coach Barry Trotz said. “… After that I thought we settled in and started playing better.
“We made a few mistakes, but when we did Pekks was real good.”
Rinne got more than enough offensive support when the Predators scored three times in the first period. The first goal came when Colin Wilson turned a blocked shot — one of 18 Minnesota attempts that did not get through — into a breakaway and an unassisted goal.
Wilson, Jason Arnott and Patric Hornqvist all finished with a goal and an assist, and Martin Erat had a pair of assists.
“Everything was better in the third when we had the lead compared to the last few games,” Arnott said. “We played with the lead and we played with confidence at the end of the game, and that was a big plus for us. … I think guys in here played a solid game, and we didn’t give them much.”
It is the first time this season Nashville has recorded two shutouts in the same month — let alone a seven-day span.
Rinne matched Mason in the 103rd game of his career and extended his personal win streak to four games. Mason’s 12 shutouts came in 135 contests over three full seasons and parts of three others with Nashville.
Tomas Vokoun holds the team’s career record with 21.
“(Rinne) won the game in Anaheim for us, he won the game in L.A. (on Sunday) and he won the game (Tuesday) night (against Philadelphia) too,” Hornqvist said. “He’s on fire, and it’s great to have that.”
• The Predators topped 200 goals scored for the sixth consecutive season. They failed to hit that mark in any of their first five.
With their plus-5 differential in this game their goals scored (202) finally surpassed their goals allowed (201) for the season.
• Blake Geoffrion, the Predators’ top pick in 2006 (second round, 56th overall) was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which is presented annually to college hockey’s top player.
Geoffrion, a resident of Brentwood, currently is a senior at the University of Wisconsin.
“The great thing about that is that … he’s done it from a non-traditional market here in Nashville,” Trotz said. “… That’s a feather in the Nashville Youth Hockey (cap) and all the people who have coached him along the way. We’re really happy about that.”
• The most lopsided shutout victory in franchise history was the 8-0 rout of Detroit on Feb. 28, 2009.