(31-22-7) Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators (41-13-7)
7:30 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: NBCSN | Radio: 102.5 The Game Tickets
The Nashville Predators are looking to improve on their League-leading 26-3-1 home record tonight as they host the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. It's the third meeting between the two Central Division foes this season, and the first of three meetings in Nashville before the season concludes.
The Preds are 2-0-0 in the season series thus far, with 6-5 and 3-1 victories in Minnesota. The Wild are currently a point out of the second NHL Wild Card spot in the standings with Thursday's contest providing a potential preview of a first-round matchup.
Nashville leads the League with 26 home wins and 53 home points this season. With their win on Tuesday over Colorado, the Predators tied an NHL record for the most wins by a team through its first 30 home games of the season. Six other clubs have achieved the feat, but only two have done so in the past 37 years.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne, who was in net on Tuesday against the Avalanche, owns a 23-3-1 record on Bridgestone Arena ice. At home, Rinne has a 1.84 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and one shutout this season.
Roman Josi tallied his fourth game-winning goal of the season on Tuesday night, tying him for second among all NHL defensemen in the category. Josi's goal was the 47th goal by a Nashville blueliner this season, a mark that leads the League.
Overall, Nashville has three defensemen in the NHL's Top 25 in blueliner scoring in Josi (44pts), Shea Weber (42pts) and Cody Franson (33pts). The Preds hold the top spot in defenseman scoring League-wide (154 points). Defensive partners Josi and Weber, who are 1-2 in Nashville defensemen scoring, have a cumulative 86 points this season, the most by any defensive duo in the NHL.
Both Craig Smith and Colin Wilson are one goal shy of joining Filip Forsberg and James Neal in the Preds 20-goal club. The most 20-goal scorers the Predators have had in a single season was six in 2006-07.
Neal, the first Preds player to surpass the mark, recorded his 20th of the season on Feb. 17, becoming one of just seven current NHL players to record at least 20 goals in each of his first seven NHL seasons. Forsberg tallied his 20th two days after Neal on Feb. 19, becoming the second rookie this season to achieve the mark and the first rookie in Predators history to score 20 goals.
Zach Parise leads Minnesota's offensive efforts, first on the club with 25 goals and 46 points this season. Jason Pominville has 41 points, while Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu are close behind. The Wild acquired forward Sean Bergenheim on Tuesday from Florida to help down the stretch.
Former Preds goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been the netminder of choice as of late in Minnesota, going 11-2-1 in his last 14 games. Dubnyk is 13-3-1 overall with Minnesota this season, posting a 1.66 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in a Wild sweater.
Minnesota is 14-14-2 on the road this season and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Nashville is 8-1-1 in their last 10 outings and 15-6-(3)-1 all-time against the Wild on Bridgestone Arena ice.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Ryan Ellis, Seth Jones and Shea Weber
What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Morning Skate Update:
The Predators held an optional morning skate prior to tonight's contest against Minnesota, so no definitive line rushes were seen. Defenseman Ryan Ellis (IR), who continues to skate with the club, was on the ice for the session. Head Coach Peter Laviolette said after the skate that Ellis remains day-to-day and a decision as to whether or not Ellis would play tonight against the Wild had not yet been made.
Defenseman Anton Volchenkov (IR), who participated in yesterday's practice, was on the ice again this morning. Projected Nashville Lines (based off of yesterday's practice):
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Neal
Cullen - Fisher - Smith
Santorelli - Jarnkrok - Wilson
Nystrom - Gaustad - BourqueDefensemen:
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Franson
Jones - Ellis (IR) / BartleyGoaltenders:
Carter Hutton*Probable StarterMinnesota Update:
Head Coach Mike Yeo confirmed that forward Sean Bergenheim, acquired by the Wild on Tuesday, will make his debut with the team tonight against the Predators.Minnesota Morning Skate Lines:
Bergenheim - Koivu - Vanek
Parise - Granlund - Pominville
Niederreiter - Coyle - Schroeder
Haula - Brodziak - FontaineDefensemen:
Suter - Brodin
Scandella - Dumba
Prosser - FolinGoaltenders:
Darcy Kuemper*Projected Starter