Season series -- This is the second of four meetings. On Oct. 28, Jerred Smithson scored a shorthanded goal midway through the third period to break a 3-3 tie and give Nashville the win at Xcel Energy Center. The loss ended Minnesota's streak of 13 consecutive home games without a regulation loss. Brent Burns, Cal Clutterbuck and Owen Nolan scored for Minnesota on the first three shots of the second period, and goalie Niklas Backstrom made 18 saves. J.P. Dumont, Michael Santorelli and Shea Weber also scored for the Predators, and goalie Pekka Rinne stopped all 12 shots faced in relief of Dan Ellis to earn the win.
Big story -- There are a lot of familiar faces on both benches in this contest. Wild rookie coach Todd Richards spent four seasons (2002-06) as an assistant with the Predators' AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky recorded 175 points in 307 games with Nashville before being acquired by the Wild for a 2009 second-round draft pick and Ryan Jones on July 1, 2008. Minnesota defenseman Greg Zanon skated in 230 games with Nashville from 2005-09. Wild defenseman Shane Hnidy played nine games with the Predators in 2003-04. Minnesota winger Andrew Brunette spent one season with the Predators (1998-99) and scored the first goal in franchise history. Predators winger Joel Ward played 11 games with Minnesota in 2006-07.
Predators -- Nashville is beginning a two-game road trip after wrapping up a three-game homestand that produced a 1-2-0 record. It ended on a dismal note, a 5-0 shutout at the hands of the Calgary Flames on Monday.
"If you look at the teams that we’ve played, overall, the body of work is good," coach Barry Trotz said. "(Monday) is not the way you want to end it. The season’s a long hard grind. There are going to be nights when you’re not as good as the other team. (Monday), we were not as good as the Calgary Flames."
The Predators are one of the NHL's hotter teams with eight wins in their last 10, but are near the bottom of the League with only 2.27 goals per game.
Wild -- This game marks the start of a two-game homestand for Minnesota. The Wild have been off since a home-and-home sweep of the Colorado Avalanche, totaling 8 goals in the two wins.
In Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win at Colorado, newcomer Guillaume Latendresse, playing his second game with the Wild, crashed the net to score the winning goal in the third period.
"Two huge wins versus our rivals in two days," Latendresse told the Star Tribune. "We knew we were playing better than them. We knew we should have had this game easy in regulation. But hockey's like that. We dominate and we're down 2-0. We got the big two points though."
Captain Mikko Koivu scored his 18th career shootout goal to clinch the win.
Who's hot -- For the Wild, Mikko Koivu has 3 assists in his last two games, Chuck Kobasew has 3 goals in his last two games, Owen Nolan has 3 goals and an assist in his last four games, Andrew Brunette has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last six games, and Eric Belanger has a goal and 2 assists in his last four games. For the Predators, David Legwand has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last six games, Jason Arnott has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last seven games, and Jordin Tootoo has 4 assists in his last five games.
Injury report -- For the Wild, defenseman Brent Burns (concussion) and forwards Petr Sykora (concussion) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) are on injured reserve. It's expected that struggling winger Martin Havlat (hamstring) will return to the lineup. ... The Predators have no injuries to report.
Stat pack -- The Wild are 14-14-5 lifetime against Nashville, and 9-5-3 in home games at Xcel Energy Center. … Before Monday's 5-0 loss vs. Calgary, Nashville held the opposition to three goals or fewer in each of the previous nine games. … The Predators have been shorthanded the second-fewest times in the League (85, 3.27 per game) and are averaging the second-fewest penalty minutes per game.
Puck drop -- "It’s a long season. We were getting chances. I was creating chances for the other guys, but it just wasn’t going in pointwise. But I wasn’t playing the way I wanted to, or the way everybody wanted me to play.
"I know I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to work hard, and I know sooner or later the points are going to come." -- Minnesota's Martin Havlat to the Star Tribune