WILD (21-16-5) at PREDATORS (22-13-6)
— KSTC (HD)
— Minnesota 6-3-1; Nashville 5-5-0.
— The two teams have split wins this season and will have one final showdown in the middle of March. Minnesota captured a 5-2 win at home in the first meeting, while Nashville responded the second time around with an impressive 4-1 win on the road. Martin Havlat scored twice for the Wild in the first game, while a balanced attack led the way for the Preds in the last game, as four different players tallied.
— Streaks have been the story for both teams of late. The Preds are riding high with a five-game winning streak heading into their home match against the Wild, whose four-game winning streak was snapped Sunday against the Dallas Stars. While the Preds look to keep things rolling, the Wild aim for a bounce back effort before enjoying two days off prior to taking on Colorado Friday night.
— The silver lining from Sunday’s 4-0 home shutout defeat to Dallas is that the Wild get to return to the road where they’ve been scorching hot since early December. The Wild are 7-1-1 in their previous nine road adventures and that success rate has helped them stay more than afloat in the competitive Western Conference. It’s safe to expect a much better effort against Nashville after coach Todd Richards’ comments after the loss to the Stars.
"No excuses at all," he said of the team's performance. "There was a way to win the game tonight and we weren’t able to execute that. Our tanks were low, but I think that’s when you have to play a smart game. The first thing to go when fatigue sets in ins your mind, and we did some uncharacteristic things, as far as how we’ve been playing hockey."
— The Preds return to Nashville winners of five straight, including sweeping the West Coast on the road with wins against Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose, respectively. Impressively, the Preds have succeeded on both ends of the ice, as they’ve scored 19 goals during the five-game streak and have given up just six. Interestingly, the Preds began their winning streak at the end of December with a 4-1 win against Minnesota.
— Winger Martin Havlat has led the way for the Wild with points in five of his past seven games, including goals in two of his past three, while the Preds have relied on the strong play of goalie Pekka Rinne
, who has bounced back after allowing four goals against Dallas Dec. 28 with four-consecutive games in which he’s given up just one goal.
— Antti Miettinen, who is battling a bruised leg and an illness, and Niklas Backstrom
, who is bothering a hip injury, are listed as questionable and doubtful, respectively against the Predators, who may be without Nick Spaling
, who is dealing with an upper body injury.
— The Preds are just a point shy of last season's 24-14-3 pace, which eventually led to a third straight year with 100 or more points.
— With a win, the Wild can carve their name in the Western Conference playoff race.