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Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Minnesota Wild (21-23-16-2) at Nashville Predators (30-23-7-2).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.

If the Minnesota Wild are going to make up any ground in the Western Conference playoff race this week, they'll have to do it without top goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

With Roloson back in his hometown after the death of his father, Manny Fernandez will be in net for the Wild as they begin a two-game road trip with a matchup against the Nashville Predators.

Roloson flew home to Simcoe, Ontario, on Tuesday to make funeral arrangements after his father died of a stomach aneurysm Monday. Roloson, 15-16-8 with four shutouts and a 1.96 goals-against average this season, will miss the Wild's road trip to Nashville and Dallas.

Fernandez will start in Roloson's place, and Johan Holmqvist was recalled from Houston of the AHL to serve as his backup.

It has been more than two months since Fernandez's last victory. He is winless in his last 10 starts, with an 0-3-6 record and 2.63 goals-against average since beating Buffalo on Dec. 13.

The Wild are in last place in the Northwest Division, but are within nine points of the eighth and final playoff berth in the conference.

Minnesota lost 3-1 to the Colorado Avalanche at home on Sunday, and has one win in its last four contests.

The Wild struggled again on the power play, failing to score on five chances. Minnesota has one of the NHL's worst man-advantage units, converting on just 13.8 percent of its opportunities.

"We are not quitters in this locker room," Wild defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "We've got to play with more desperation."

Nashville had its three-game winning streak snapped on Monday with a 3-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The Predators were led by newly acquired forward Steve Sullivan in scoring a whopping 18 goals during the three wins, but they couldn't muster any offense Monday.

Sullivan had five goals and five assists in his first three games with the Predators, tying Wayne Gretzky's NHL record for the most points by a player in his first three contests with a team.

"I don't think I'm going to score every night. Tonight, I didn't," Sullivan said. "Some nights, the puck is just not going to go in."

Nashville is 2-0-2 in its last four home games against Minnesota since a 4-2 loss on Oct. 30. 2001.

STANDINGS: Wild - 60 points, 5th place, 20 PB, Northwest Division. Predators - 69 points, 2nd place, 12 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Sergei Zholtok, 13 goals; Andrew Brunette, 25 assists and 36 points; Matt Johnson, 151 PIM. Predators - Sullivan, 20 goals, 33 assists and 53 points; Jordin Tootoo, 116 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 24): Wild - Power play: 13.8 percent (34 for 246), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (189 for 223), 12th. Predators - Power play: 16.4 percent (53 for 323), 12th. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (240 for 292), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Fernandez (6-9-8, 1 SO, 2.44 GAA); Holmqvist (no appearances). Predators - Tomas Vokoun (27-22-6, 2, 2.62); Chris Mason (3-3-1, 1, 2.11).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 1-0-2.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 19; Predators, 2-0. At Nashville, Tenn., Vokoun stopped 26 shots, and Vladimir Orszagh and Martin Erat scored goals in helping the Predators extend their unbeaten streak at home to 10 games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 8-10-10-1 on the road; Predators - 19-7-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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