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Nashville
Predators
41-32-9
Minnesota
Wild
44-28-10

32 SOG
31 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
NSH
MIN
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Predators-Wild Preview

Tuesday, 12.18.2007 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Predators-Wild Preview
Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild

No Western Conference team has scored fewer goals per game than the Minnesota Wild. But they haven't had any problems finding the net against the Nashville Predators lately.

Minnesota looks for its third consecutive win when it returns home from a five-game road trip to host Nashville on Tuesday.

The Wild (18-12-2) have scored 80 goals through 32 games, an average of just 2.5. But when they've faced Nashville since the start of last season, their offense has thrived. Minnesota has won four of its five games against the Predators in that span, scoring 23 goals in the process.

The Wild's power play has thrived in those meetings, scoring on 10 of 22 chances with the man advantage - a 45.5 percent success rate. They matched a franchise record with five power-play goals in a 6-5 home win over the Predators on Oct. 7, 2006.

But a lack of consistent scoring has been an issue all season for Minnesota. The Wild have reached the four-goal mark only seven times, and have scored more than twice in just one of their last seven games.

They scored twice Saturday, but that was enough for a 2-1 win at Los Angeles to close out the road trip. Marian Gaborik scored his team-high 12th goal in the first period, and Brian Rolston added his 11th on a second-period power play.

With starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom out due to illness, Josh Harding stepped up by allowing just three goals in winning the last two games of the road trip. He made 35 saves against the Kings despite battling a flu bug himself.

"I was sick (Saturday) morning and kind of got over it (in the) afternoon," said Harding, who is likely to get another start against Nashville. "I maybe wasn't 100 percent, but everybody had to battle through it, and I'm no different.

"Hopefully I proved to them in these two games that I can come up big."

Wild center Mikko Koivu is expected to miss a few more weeks after feeling pain in his injured left leg during the team's practice on Monday. He suffered a broken bone in the leg on Nov. 16.

Like the Wild, Nashville (14-14-2) has had serious problems scoring for much of the season, and those problems have worsened lately. The Predators have scored just 10 goals in their last six games - five losses - and have scored just one power-play goal in 29 chances during that stretch.

Their 12.4 percent conversion rate with the man advantage this season is second-worst in the NHL.

The Predators have lost three in a row after falling to Colorado for the second straight game on Saturday, 3-1. They've managed only one goal in each game of the skid, but coach Barry Trotz remains encouraged.

"That's the third game in a row where we did all the right things, played at a high energy level and walk away with a loss," Trotz said. "We are ringing posts, missing wide-open nets and have nothing to show for it."

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 17 '08NSH 4 at MIN 5 - OTM. Gaborik
Jan 05 '08MIN 1 at NSH 4D. Hamhuis
Dec 18 '07NSH 2 at MIN 3B. Rolston
Nov 24 '07MIN 4 at NSH 3B. Radivojevic
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