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Nashville
Predators
40-34-8
Minnesota
Wild
40-33-9

game preview

Predators-Wild Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:51 AM

Associated Press

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Predators-Wild Preview
Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild know the importance of taking advantage of their current stretch of home games.

The surging Wild look for a third straight victory overall and at home Friday night when they host the Nashville Predators.

Having lost just 18 games over the past two seasons at home, Minnesota (26-21-3) has been inconsistent at the Xcel Energy Center, going 15-9-3 there in 2008-09, but has shown improvement lately.

Paced by a 34-save effort from All-Star Niklas Backstrom, the Wild beat Anaheim 3-0 on Wednesday to open a stretch where they will play eight of their next 10 at home. After that, Minnesota plays 15 of its final 22 on the road.

In the thick of the crowded Western Conference playoff picture, the Wild can better their position knowing all but one of those remaining home games during the stretch are against conference teams.

"We can't be satisfied, because the standings probably will be completely different tomorrow night," said Backstrom, who set a club record with his sixth shutout this season.

Facing Nashville (24-24-3) presents another challenge for the Wild, who have won six of nine overall.

Though Minnesota has won five of the last six at home in the series, the teams split the previous two meetings this season - both at Nashville. The Predators enter seeking their first four-game winning streak of the season.

After rolling to a 6-2 win at Nashville on Nov. 29, Minnesota was blanked 1-0 by Pekka Rinne and the Predators on Dec. 6.

While backup Josh Harding has started twice this season versus Nashville, Backstrom is 5-0-0 with a 2.58 GAA lifetime against the Predators.

Andrew Brunette, Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard each had a goal and an assist Wednesday for the normally light-scoring Wild, who have outscored their opponents 31-20 over the last nine contests.

"I think we're getting better every night, and that's the way it should be," Backstrom said.

Koivu has scored in two straight games while posting nine points in his last six. He has two goals and an assist against Nashville this season.

Bouchard, meanwhile, has three goals and six assists in his last four contests. He added a goal with an assist in the earlier win over the Predators, while Brunette had a goal and two assists in the same game.

Minnesota will be without forward Owen Nolan due to back spasms. He is third on the team with 12 goals.

Rinne made 28 saves and Jason Arnott scored his team-leading 18th goal as Nashville beat Anaheim 4-2 on Thursday for its fourth win in five games since losing three in a row.

Arnott looks to record a goal in his third straight game for the Predators, who have scored more than two goals only twice in their last 10 contests.

"Our top guys have responded by saying they are going to get it done," Predators coach Barry Trotz said.

Arnott assisted on J.P. Dumont's goal in the last meeting with Minnesota and also has a goal against the Wild this season.

Rinne made 32 saves versus the Wild in December, but Dan Ellis will try to snap a personal four-game losing streak when he makes his first start since Jan. 17 on Friday.

Ellis is 10-16-3 with a 2.92 GAA on the season, but 1-2-0 with a 3.35 GAA against Minnesota.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 10 '09 NSH 4 at MIN 8 M. Bergeron
Feb 06 '09 NSH 2 at MIN 0 J. Arnott
Dec 06 '08 MIN 0 at NSH 1 J. Dumont
Nov 29 '08 MIN 6 at NSH 2 O. Nolan
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Dumont52112738-11223
M. Erat49142135-64233
J. Arnott46191534-14363
S. Weber51141832+65163
D. Legwand52121527-52611
R. Suter5242226-64412
R. Bonk5061117-52842
D. Hamhuis5221517-85301
J. Ward496915+02511
V. Fiddler488513-4802
R. Jones275611+11020
J. Tootoo454610-89001
G. Zanon52369+23200
S. Nichol27369+22800
R. Peverley27279-31500
J. Smithson52358-43300
V. Koistinen28268-21011
K. Klein33347+01710
P. Hornqvist18257-21200
G. De Vries42145-144200
A. Pihlstrom29145+11010
S. Sullivan11033-5400
W. Belak40011+15900
N. Tarnasky11011+11700
M. Santorelli6000-4200
A. Sulzer2000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
P. Rinne2614-8-0536642.26.920
D. Ellis3111-16-3818252.82.902
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Koivu51153550+74242
A. Miettinen51102333-22022
P. Bouchard48112132-41220
A. Brunette51131831-31261
M. Zidlicky4691827-75093
E. Belanger48101525-6833
O. Nolan3112921+11773
M. Bergeron4171421+12242
B. Burns4771320-93732
K. Johnsson5011213+52400
S. Veilleux506612-111901
J. Sheppard514812-172201
C. Clutterbuck478311+05111
B. Pouliot375611+11821
K. Kolanos19336+31610
N. Schultz51156+02500
M. Gaborik6325+0010
C. Gillies29134-11201
D. Fritsche20134-3200
M. Skoula50044-10400
D. Boogaard41033+47300
E. Reitz31112-24100
C. Weller25112-24110
T. Mojzis4011-1200
J. Scott5000-2200
P. Olvecky4000+1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Backstrom4425-17-29312772.20.927
J. Harding111-5-1182702.03.933