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Preview: Wild at Predators

Nashville closing in on playoff berth; Minnesota holding on to second in Central

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

WILD (45-24-8) at PREDATORS (39-27-11)

2 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, FS-TN, NHL.TV


Wild team scope

The Minnesota Wild lead the St. Louis Blues by seven points for third place in the Central Division and trail the Chicago Blackhawks by nine points for first place. Forward Zach Parise practiced Friday and said he plans on playing; he missed one game with an eye injury after taking a stick under the visor from Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson in a 5-4 overtime loss Tuesday. "It's scary when you open your eye for the first time and you're just praying that nothing happened or it's nothing too serious," Parise told the Wild website. The Predators could play the Wild in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "Nashville's got a lot to fight for, we've got a lot to fight for," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's a potential opponent in the first round. I think there's some great storylines for [the game Saturday]. They've lost two in a row for the first time this month, and I think they'll be ready to play."

Video: PHI@MIN: Parise picks up the loose puck, scores early


Predators team scope

Nashville holds the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference, with an eight-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings. The Predators trail the Blues by two points for third place in the Central Division and the Calgary Flames by three points for the first wild card. This game is the first of a back-to-back before playing the Blues on Sunday. "We want to clinch playoffs," forward Ryan Johansen said. "The confidence part, if we can have a good weekend here and come up with some wins and clinch playoffs, we'd be feeling really good about ourselves. We'll take it one at a time though. We'll focus on Minnesota here and try to take care of business, and then head over to St. Louis and try to have a great back-to-back." Forward James Neal left in the third period of a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday after a puck hit him in the side of the head; there was no update on his status at practice Friday. The Predators are 7-2-0 in their past nine home games.

Video: WPG@NSH: Johansen finishes Forsberg's nice feed


Wild projected lineup

Nino Niederreiter -- Eric Staal -- Jason Zucker

Zach Parise -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Charlie Coyle -- Martin Hanzal -- Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart -- Erik Haula -- Ryan White

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin -- Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Joel Eriksson Ek, Darcy Kuemper, Nate Prosser, Jordan Schroeder

Injured: Victor Bartley (arm)


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Colin Wilson -- Mike Fisher -- P.A. Parenteau

Cody McLeod -- Colton Sissons -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Anthony Bitetto -- Matt Irwin

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Vernon Fiddler, Brad Hunt, Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Craig Smith (upper body), Yannick Weber (upper body)


Status report

Stalock is expected to back up Dubnyk, with Kuemper expected to be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. … Smith participated in an optional practice Friday. Weber and Neal did not practice.


Who's hot

Staal has six points (three goals, three assists) in a six-game point streak. … Stalock allowed one goal on 19 shots in a 5-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, his first NHL game since Feb. 11, 2016.

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