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Wild hope to get well against low-scoring Preds

by Brian Hunter
PREDATORS (9-7-4) at WILD (10-8-2)

TV -- FS-Tennessee (HD), FS-North (HD)

Last 10 --
Nashville 4-5-1; Minnesota 6-4-0

Season series
-- First of four meetings this season. The Predators and Wild split four games in 2009-10, with each winning once at home and once on the road. Minnesota garnered an additional point by virtue of a 5-4 overtime win at Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 2, 2009.

Big story -- Win three, lose two. Win three, lose two. It's been a streaky month of November for the Wild, who hope to salvage the finale of a three-game homestand that so far has featured lopsided losses to the Rangers and Flyers. Their opponent on Friday, the Predators, has also lost two straight and is having trouble scoring goals of late.

Team Scope: 

Predators --
Four of Nashville's games this month have gone to shootouts, and the Predators prevailed in the first three. The penalty-shot tiebreaker didn't go their way Wednesday night against the visiting Blues, however. Andy McDonald, who had opened the scoring just nine seconds into the first period, had the only goal in the fifth round to hand the Predators a 2-1 defeat. Jerred Smithson scored 22 seconds into the second period, the only goal for his team over the last two games.

"For the most part we knew they were a tight checking team and we weren't going to get a lot of goals," Smithson said. "They have great goaltending, great defense and they play tight. We have to work for all of our chances. Give them a lot of credit; they played well."

-- Getting outscored 11-3 at home by New York (5-2) and Philadelphia (6-1) put a bit of a damper on Minnesota's holiday, and the Wild will look to tighten up defensively against the Predators. Niklas Backstrom allowed four goals over the final 21 minutes against the Flyers after Patrick O'Sullivan scored in his first game for the Wild to cut their deficit to 2-1 in the second period.

"We knew there were some things that we had to tighten up on and get better at," forward Cal Clutterbuck told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "When we were winning games, we were getting outshot, and we said, 'This stuff is going to come back and bite us sooner or later.' ... You see the result basically."

Who's hot
-- Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has given up only four goals in his last four starts and has a .959 save percentage over that span. ... Martin Havlat leads the Wild with 17 points and had 2 goals and 6 assists during a five-game points streak that ended Wednesday.

Injury report -- Nashville forward David Legwand (lower body) is day-to-day and forward Matthew Lombardi (concussion) is on injured reserve. ... Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky (undisclosed) is day-to-day, while goalie Josh Harding (MCL/ACL) and forwards James Sheppard (knee), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), Guillaume Latendresse (sports hernia/hip) and Chuck Kobasew (groin) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack -- The Predators have gone five straight games without a power-play goal since Shea Weber lit the lamp against the Blackhawks on Nov. 13. ... Clutterbuck set a Wild franchise record with 12 hits against the Flyers.

Puck drop
-- Nashville coach Barry Trotz addressed the recent power-play struggles in the Tennessean, saying, "We have a plan and it's just working the plan and executing it. We're just misfiring.

"A lot of it comes to execution," Trotz added. "We're doing a lot of the same things that a lot of the other teams do, but pucks (are) bouncing off people's sticks and all that."
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