Marek Mazanec made his 11th consecutive start in the Predators 3-1 loss on Tuesday night to the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena. It was the third straight loss for Nashville, all coming on home ice.
Making 30 saves on the night, it was the ninth consecutive game that the rookie netminder posted an above .900 save percentage.
Going into the third period tied 1-1, Ryan Kesler scored twice in the final frame to give the Canucks the win.
Predators forward Eric Nystrom says the team will need to continue to lean on Mazanec if Nashville is going to climb back into the playoff picture.
“I wouldn’t say it was a tough game for him tonight. He played extremely well,” Nystrom said. “It is hard to stop those point-blank shots right in front when there is traffic. He has been great. We are going to need him to continue to play well for us to give us a chance.”
Currently, Nashville sits in 12th place in the Western Conference, seven points outside of the last wildcard spot.
Earlier today, Mazanec was named the NHL’s rookie of the month after posting a 5-4-1 record with a 2.00 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts after being recalled from Milwaukee on November 5th.
With Pekka Rinne out of action due to a bacterial infection in his hip, Mazanec won the starting goaltending position when Carter Hutton struggled in net. The Czech Republic native didn’t think he would have an opportunity to be an NHL starting netminder this season.
“I was the second goalie. It was [Hutton’s] turn, with Rinne out, but it is good for me. I am really happy that I can play,” he said.
The 22-year old was told Tuesday morning of the NHL honor he received by Predators goaltending coach Mitch Korn.
“It is a nice feeling, but it is the whole team. I rely on my teammates. I was pretty surprised, though. I didn’t even know that the NHL names a rookie of the month. I was pretty surprised,” he said.
The rookie beat out the likes of San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and New York’s Chris Kreider for the top honors.
While Rinne recovers, Mazanec is the Predators number-one goaltender, and he won’t be sent back to the American Hockey League any time soon. However, his mask remains the one he wore for the Milwaukee Admirals.
That will change, soon.
“I will get a new one soon. It’s in the process. I don’t know when though. That’s a question for our equipment manager,” he explained.