(27-9-4) Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild (18-16-5)
1 P.M. | Xcel Energy Center
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game
The Nashville Predators are in the State of Hockey for an afternoon matinee against the Minnesota Wild in a battle of the top and bottom of the Central Division. Although the Wild sit seventh in the ultra-competitive division, they still have a winning record. Minnesota has struggled as of late, however, having lost three in a row.
On the contrary, Nashville has won two straight outings, including a 3-2 overtime victory on Thursday against Dallas, and are 4-0-1 in their last five.
The Predators and Wild participated in a back and forth affair just a few weeks ago at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, with Mattias Ekholm potting an OT winner for a 6-5 victory.
Nashville Captain Shea Weber scored his seventh career overtime goal and notched his 13th career overtime point on Thursday against the Stars, the second most in franchise history in both categories. Against Dallas, his OT winner was his second tally of the game and the 14th multi-goal game of his career, tying him for third most in Preds history. Weber has 13 points (4g-9a) in his last 13 games.
In the past five games, 10 of Nashville's 19 goals, and seven of its last 10, have been tallied by a Preds defenseman, including two of three against the Stars on Thursday night. Nashville's last four wins, dating back to Dec. 30 against St. Louis, have been secured by game-winning goals from defensemen. With two game-winners each from Weber and Roman Josi, the Preds blueline has recorded four-straight winning tallies for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
Rookie forward Filip Forsberg continues to lead the Preds, and League rookies, in points with 38 (14g-24a) through 40 games this season. Linemate Mike Ribeiro has tallied 19 points (4g-15a) in his last 18 contests. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has won a League-leading 27 games this season for the Preds.
Minnesota is led offensively by forwards Jason Pominville (32 points) and Zach Parise (30 points). Former Preds defenseman Ryan Suter has one goal and 21 helpers from the blue line this season. Darcy Kuemper sees the bulk of the action in net for the Wild, carrying a 13-12-1 record with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.
This afternoon marks the second of five meetings between the two clubs scheduled on the season. Dating back to Dec. 31, 2010, the Preds are 10-3-3 against the Wild and have claimed 12 of a possible 18 points on Xcel Energy Center ice (5-2-2). Minnesota is 2-4-4 in their last 10 outings, while Nashville is 7-1-2 over the last 10 games. The Wild are 10-5-5 at home on the campaign.
With the afternoon start time, there will be no morning skate from St. Paul.