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game preview

Wild look for fifth consecutive win

Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:12 AM

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Wild look for fifth consecutive win
Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild

PREDATORS (10-6-4) at WILD (12-5-3)

TV: FS-Tennessee (HD); FS-North (HD), FS-Wisconsin (HD)

Last 10: Nashville 5-2-3; Minnesota 8-2-0

Season Series: The Western Conference rivals are playing the first of their four games this season. Nashville won three of the four games last season, splitting a pair in St. Paul.

Big Story: It's not a surprise that the Predators are among the top eight in the Western Conference as they come to the Xcel Energy Arena for the first time this season. But the play of the Wild has been beyond anything team management or fans could have hoped for -- Minnesota comes into this game with 27 points and on top of the overall standings.

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville got off to a bad start against Edmonton at home on Tuesday, falling behind 3-0 after 20 minutes, and never recovered. The 6-2 loss to a team it has dominated in the past few years was a dose of cold water for a team that has big hopes for this season.

"Too many turnovers, not really getting on them, playing a light, soft game," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said when asked what happened to his club in the opening 20 minutes. "They just transitioned and turned (the turnovers) into goals.

"We turned pucks over way too much. We lost the game in the first period."

Wild: Minnesota comes into this game well-rested, having been off since Saturday's 3-2 shootout win against St. Louis, their fourth consecutive victory. This is the third of a six-game homestand that figures to give the Wild a chance to pile up some points.

The Wild have been doing it with defense and goaltending -- the combination of Niklas Backstrom, who will start against Nashville, and Josh Harding has been lights-out, allowing a League-low 1.95 goals per game.

First-year coach Mike Yeo likes what he's seen.

"Is Nashville going to come in here and change their game?" Yeo said. "I'm sure that they're not. And that's what we're trying to establish here is our own identity as far as the way that we want to play the game, it shouldn't change night in and night out."

Who's Hot: Nashville captain Shea Weber had an assist on Tuesday and has seven points during a five-game points streak. Martin Erat has four goals in his last six games … Backstrom has allowed just four goals while winning his last three starts.

Injury Report: The Predators are not missing any regulars. … The Wild expect defenseman Marco Scandella (concussion) to return, and another blueliner, Greg Zanon (groin) could be back this week. Forward Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) is still on IR.

Stat Pack: Only three of the 40 games between the teams have been decided in overtime or a shootout -- and the Wild have won all three. … The Wild lead the NHL with eight one-goal wins, including three in shootouts.

Puck Drop: Yeo has a Stanley Cup ring from his pre-Wild days as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He almost got away from Tuesday's media scrum without having to talk about Sidney Crosby's return on Monday. But as reported by the Wild's website -- on his way out the door, Yeo said, "When all of our defensemen come back, they'll be expected to put up four points."

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 03 '12MIN 1 at NSH 2 - SOA. Radulov
Jan 31 '12NSH 5 at MIN 4M. Fisher
Dec 28 '11MIN 1 at NSH 2 - SOC. Wilson
Nov 23 '11NSH 2 at MIN 3C. Clutterbuck
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
C. Smith217916-11630
R. Suter2151015+132231
D. Legwand1751015+4411
S. Weber2131215+161610
P. Hornqvist207411+01411
C. Wilson215611+21321
S. Kostitsyn173811+31200
M. Erat135510+1601
M. Fisher133710-1210
M. Halischuk21527+32301
J. Tootoo21257+12610
N. Spaling16246-2601
J. Blum21224-9401
K. Klein19134-10401
J. Hillen19033+01200
N. Bergfors11112-2201
B. Geoffrion18022+01300
F. Bouillon14022-6600
J. Smithson21101-31800
B. McGrattan15011-23400
C. O'Reilly5011-2200
T. Laakso9000-1800
M. Ekholm2000-1000
Z. Stortini1000+0700
R. Thang1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
P. Rinne2010-6-4456152.39.927
A. Lindback30-1-08733.48.890
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Koivu2131215+6610
D. Heatley216713+4422
M. Cullen218412+4820
D. Setoguchi216511+11022
P. Bouchard191910+31801
K. Brodziak21549+01210
G. Latendresse14448+71801
C. Clutterbuck20527+13612
J. Spurgeon21246+3411
M. Zidlicky18066+01000
N. Johnson17235+12100
D. Powe21224-2901
N. Prosser12044+1800
M. Scandella17213-1810
B. Bulmer9033+1600
N. Schultz21022+11000
C. Gillies21022-1600
J. Falk14022+41500
G. Zanon7101+1200
C. Stoner14011+61100
W. Peters7011+01200
B. Staubitz17000-13100
M. Kassian2000+1500
K. Fredheim2000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Backstrom147-4-2274131.97.935
J. Harding86-1-1142431.82.942