The National Hockey League overlooked Pekka Rinne when it came to invitations to last weekend’s All-Star Game.
The performance of the Nashville Predators goalie in recent weeks has not been completely ignored, though.
Wednesday, for the second time in three days, Rinne earned a performance award. He was named the league’s third star of the month after he was named second star of the week on Monday.
He was the only Western Conference player recognized in either case. The first two stars of the month were New York Islanders center John Tavares (league-highs of 13 assists and 22 points) and Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin (a league-high 12 goals), respectively. The first and third stars of the week were Toronto center Mikhail Grabovski (one goal, four assists in two games) and Ottawa right wing Daniel Alfredsson (a goal in each of two games).
Rinne won in 11 of his 12 January appearances, including his last 10, capped by Tuesday’s 5-4 victory at Minnesota. He allowed two goals or fewer nine times and made 35-plus saves in three straight contests (Jan. 14-19).
He’ll seek to carry that momentum into Thursday’s game at Philadelphia (6 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee). He beat the Flyers 4-2 at home back on Jan. 14.
“I couldn’t be more excited to go and hit these last 32 games,” he said Monday after players returned from the All-Star break. “… We have to set our goals higher and higher as we move ahead.”
It is tough for him to do much better.
He stopped 93.5 percent of the shots he faced in January and, prior to the game at Minnesota, had allowed two goals or fewer in nine straight appearances. He earned the weekly award after he allowed one goal each in victories over Columbus and Chicago prior to the All-Star break.
Rinne is the only Nashville player to earn one of the league’s three stars of a month more than once, and he has now done so three times. He also was third star of the month in Jan. 2011 in addition to March 2011.
At 29-11-4, he currently ranks second in the NHL for wins. His next win will make him the first goalie in franchise history to win 30 games or more three times.