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Game Day: Preds vs. Wild

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(7-2-2) Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild (7-2-2)
  7:00 P.M. (CT) | Xcel Energy Center | #NSHvsMIN
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game


The Nashville Predators will complete their four-game, nine-day road trip tonight with a meeting in Minnesota against the Wild. It's the first Central Division contest this season for the Preds, with both clubs carrying an identical 7-2-2 record into the game.

Minnesota is 5-0-0 in their home barn, the only NHL team yet to lose a home game this season, but both of Nashville's wins over the Wild last season came at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Preds are the only team in the NHL who have yet to skate against their own division, a group that has a combined record of 50-26-7 so far this season. During the 2014-15 campaign, the Preds boasted a 15-9-5 record against their own division with two of those wins coming against Minnesota.

Nashville has scored the game's first goal in eight of 11 contests they've played, scoring within the first 10 minutes of the game on four occasions. Nashville has a 7-1-0 record when scoring first.

Predators Captain Shea Weber is one goal away from scoring the 150th of his NHL career. When he scores No. 150, he will be just the third active NHL defenseman with 150 goals and the 38th blueliner in NHL history to accomplish the feat. Weber has already potted three on the campaign to go along with a trio of assists.

James Neal leads the Preds in goals and points, with seven and 10, respectively. Defenseman Roman Josi (2g-7a), winger Filip Forsberg (2g-6a) and center Mike Ribeiro (1g-6a) follow Neal in scoring for the Predators. Through the first 11 games of the season, 19 different Preds skaters have registered at least one point. Seven different players have multiple goals.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne has allowed two goals or fewer in six of nine appearances this season, owning a 6-1-2 record to go along with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. The Preds have played in seven, one-goal games, with a 4-1-2 record in those instances.

The Preds are well rested, not having played since Sunday, but so are the Wild. Minnesota hasn't played since Saturday night against St. Louis, falling to the Blues in overtime by a 3-2 final. Mikko Koivu (3g-8a) leads the Wild in points with 11, followed closely by Thomas Vanek (4g-6a) and former Preds defenseman Ryan Suter (2g-8a), who each have 10 points. Zach Parise has tallied seven goals for Minnesota, while Vanek, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter have four each.

Devan Dubnyk is expected to get the start in goal for Minnesota against the Preds; he's 7-2-1 on the season with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.

Tonight is the first of four meetings this season between the two foes. The Predators have won four of their last 10 games against the Wild (4-4-2 record). Last season, the Preds had a 2-2-1 record against Minnesota, winning both games on the road. In fact, the Preds have not lost a game in regulation to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center since Oct. 22, 2013, posting a 3-0-1 record since. All-time, the Preds are 26-19-12 against the Wild.


Projected Lineups:

Preds forward Eric Nystrom (upper-body) was absent from Thursday's morning skate and skated alone following the session.

Nashville Predators*:

Forwards
Filip Forsberg Mike Fisher James Neal
Miikka Salomaki Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Colin Wilson Cody Hodgson Calle Jarnkrok
Gabriel Bourque Paul Gaustad Austin Watson
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis

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Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is the expected starter in net with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Victor Bartley, (F) Eric Nystrom

*Preds forward lines via the Tennessean's Adam Vingan


Minnesota Wild*:

Forwards
Zach Parise Mikael Granlund Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker Mikko Koivu Nino Niederreiter
Thomas Vanek Charlie Coyle Jordan Schroeder
Chris Porter Erik Haula Ryan Carter
Defense
Ryan Suter Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella Nate Prosser

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Goaltenders: Devan Dubnyk has been annouced as the starter in net with Niklas Backstrom serving as the backup.

Injured:
(F) Tyler Graovac, (F) Justin Fontaine

*Wild lineup provided by NHL.com

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