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Preview: Predators at Wild

Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper starts for Minnesota; Pekka Rinne plays for Nashville

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

PREDATORS (22-17-7) at WILD (30-10-5)

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


Predators team scope

Goalie Pekka Rinne, 4-2-0 with 10 goals against in the past six starts, will start for Nashville in the finale of a five-game road trip. The Predators are 3-1-0 on the trip and are 5-1-0 in their past six games after going 2-4-2 in their previous eight. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has three goals in the past two games and also scored the deciding goal in a 3-2 shootout victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. "Everything [about Ellis] for a long time [has impressed me]," said coach Peter Laviolette, who is one win away from 500 in his NHL career. "He's a guy who probably doesn't get talked about enough or mentioned enough with regard to his game. He's as consistent as anybody in the League. He plays against the other team's best players and plays big minutes and contributes offensively." Defenseman P.K. Subban will play in his second game since missing 16 with an upper-body injury. He played 22:43 in the shootout win at Edmonton. "Just to get back in there obviously is good after being out so long," Subban said. "[I'm] just trying to take it one step at a time."


Wild team scope

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is expected to start in the finale of a four-game homestand after Devan Dubnyk played Saturday in a 5-3 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at Xcel Energy Center. Kuemper is 5-2-2 in nine starts; the most recent was a 4-3 victory against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 14. Minnesota has won its past two games and is 6-1-0 in its last seven, 19-2-1 in its past 22, and has won 11 of its past 13 games at Xcel Energy Center. Defenseman Ryan Suter, who had the winning goal in the comeback victory against the Ducks, leads the NHL with a plus-30 rating. His regular partner, Jared Spurgeon, is second at plus-28, and forward Jason Zucker is third at plus-27.


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Austin Watson -- Mike Fisher -- Craig Smith

Calle Jarnkrok -- Mike Ribeiro -- James Neal

Cody McLeod -- Derek Grant -- Harry Zolnierczyk

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Ryan Ellis

Anthony Bitetto -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Brad Hunt, Colton Sissons

Injured: Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Roman Josi (upper body), Petter Granberg (undisclosed), Colin Wilson (lower body)


Wild projected lineup

Charlie Coyle - Eric Staal -- Nino Niederreiter

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise -- Erik Haula -- Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart -- Tyler Graovac -- Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella -- Christian Folin

Darcy Kuemper

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Mike Reilly, Kurtis Gabriel

Injured: Jonas Brodin (broken finger), Victor Bartley (arm)


Status report  

Wilson took part in the morning skate. "He's good. Anytime a player's out on the ice, that's good news for me," Laviolette said. "When they start mixing and mingling with the team, that's a good sign." Wilson has missed 20 games. … The Wild did not have a morning skate.


Who's hot

Rinne has won three of his past four starts, allowing six goals. … Niederreiter has six points (three goals, three assists) in a four-game point streak. … Granlund has seven assists during a six-game point streak … Staal has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in the past nine games. .. Koivu has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in the past 11 games. … Pominville has five points (one goal, four assists) in the past four games.

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