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

30 SOG
30 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
MIN
NSH
game preview

Wild-Predators Preview

Saturday, 01.05.2008 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

The Minnesota Wild seem to be finding the consistency which had eluded them for much of the early season.

Minnesota looks for its fourth win in five games when it starts a four-game road trip Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

The Wild (23-15-2) have played well over the last six weeks, going 12-6-0 following a 4-9-1 stretch.

Marian Gaborik scored two of Minnesota's four first-period goals Wednesday en route to a 6-3 victory over a Dallas team tied for the Pacific Division lead.

"We've been looking for that all year," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said about his team beating a top caliber opponent. "I like it even more because our game is better."

Gaborik - the team's leading scorer with 21 goals this season - has led Minnesota's recent surge, with 11 goals over the team's last 10 games. He has also scored a goal in each of his last four games against the Predators, while adding two assists.

Minnesota has won four straight in the series, as well as its last three visits to Nashville.

Goaltender Niklas Backstrom has also been dominant against Nashville - he's never lost to the Predators in four tries, while posting a 2.20 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.

Minnesota features one of the NHL's best power plays. The Wild have converted 20.5 percent of their chances this season, including six goals in 17 chances (35.3 percent) over their last four games.

That unit will be tested against a Predators team that has killed off 91.9 percent of its penalties over the last 13 games.

Nashville (19-18-2) has won consecutive games and five of its last seven, and though the Predators are in last place in the tightly-packed Central Division, they're only four points behind second-place Columbus.

They defeated Edmonton 5-2 on Wednesday for their largest margin of victory since a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets on Nov. 12.

Alexander Radulov scored twice against Edmonton for the first multi-goal game of his career. The 21-year-old forward has five goals and two assists in his last five games.

"Rads has a lot of ability," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "He is a talent, but he has a long way to go to be a good player in the NHL. A good player plays both ends of the ice consistently."

As Radulov has excelled, so have his linemates. Jason Arnott, the team's leading scorer with 33 points, has five goals and four assists over his last seven contests, and J.P. Dumont, whose 13 goals rank second on the club behind Arnott's 14, is riding a three-game goal-scoring streak.

Dumont had a goal in Nashville's 3-2 loss at Minnesota on Dec. 18, but was held without a point in a 4-3 home loss to the Wild on Nov. 24.

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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GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
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