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Game Day: Wild vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(45-27-8) Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators (47-23-10)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Nissan Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
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Tonight marks the regular season home finale for the Nashville Predators as they host the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. It's the 41st and final home contest for the Preds before the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway next week. Nashville has just two games left on the schedule, this evening against Minnesota and Saturday in Dallas.

The Predators currently sit second in the Central Division with 104 points, trailing St. Louis by one point and two points ahead of third place Chicago. All three teams are in action tonight, with each club set to play two more games before the regular season concludes Saturday.

Nashville is coming off of a 3-2 loss on Tuesday in Colorado sliding the Predators to 0-2-2 in their last four games. The Preds are 2-1-1 against the Wild this season, with both victories coming in Minnesota.

The Predators are poised to sell out their 30th home game of the 2014-15 regular-season when Minnesota visits Bridgestone Arena for the Nashville’s regular-season home finale on Thursday night. Saturday’s contest against the Stars was the Preds’ 11th consecutive sellout crowd (17,113), which increased the average attendance at hockey games at Bridgestone Arena this season to 16,845 (98.4 percent). The 29 sellouts to date this season are a franchise record.

Shea Weber led Nashville in ice time (27:19) for the second consecutive game on Tuesday in Denver, his second game played since missing three games due to injury. Weber also led the Preds in shots (5) for the second game in a row, increasing his season total to 232, second on the team and fourth among all NHL defensemen.

Weber has tallied 45 points (15g-30a) this season, the fifth time in his NHL career that he has recorded 45 points or more, which ranks him second among Preds blueliners and in the Top 15 of defensemen League wide. Of his 15 goals, which place him in a tie for sixth among NHL defensemen, four have been scored when the Preds have been down by one (to tie the game) and nine have been scored in a tie game (to give Nashville the lead).

Filip Forsberg, who has 15 multi-point games this season, is tied for the Preds lead and for second among League rookies in points this season (24g-37a-61pts). With his first-period goal on Saturday against Dallas, Forsberg became the Preds’ second player to hit 60 points this season (Mike Ribeiro) and just the 12th rookie since 2005-06 to achieve the mark. The last time Nashville had two players with 60 or more points was 2007-08 when J-P Dumont and Jason Arnott finished with matching 72-point seasons.

On the season, Forsberg has played in all 80 of Nashville’s games and, while playing in the League’s toughest division, the team is 17-3-4 when he scores a goal. In addition to his two overtime game-winning goals, Forsberg has tallied three shootout-deciding markers.

Roman Josi, who has eight points (4g-4a) in his last 11 games, is fourth among all League blueliners in points (15g-40a-55pts) and first among Nashville defensemen. Josi’s 209 blocked shots this season are first on the team and second overall in the NHL and his 26:28 average time on ice is fourth in the League and first on the Preds.

Mike Ribeiro has seven points (2g-5a) in his last seven games and is tied for the Preds lead in points (15g-46a-61pts) and is in the Top 10 in assists in the NHL this season. Ribeiro recorded his 500th career assist on Saturday against Dallas, a week after surpassing Jason Arnott (44, 2007-08) for most assists by a Preds’ center in franchise history.

Zach Parise leads the offensive attack for the Wild, having recorded 32 goals and 61 points in 72 games this season. Thomas Vanek (21) and Nino Niederreiter (24) have also eclipsed the 20-goal mark, while Vanek (30), Jason Pominville (36), Ryan Suter (36) and Mikko Koivu (33) have all dished out over 30 assists. Charlie Coyle leads Minnesota with six points against the Preds this season.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has started a franchise-record 38 consecutive games for the Wild, posting a 27-8-2 record with a 1.73 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. Also with five shutouts, Dubnyk ranks first in the NHL in wins since Jan. 15. (UPDATE: Dubnyk will not start for the Wild tonight. Darcy Kuemper gets the nod for Minnesota.)

Minnesota is 2-2-1 in their last five outings but an impressive 23-14-2 away from home this season.

Thursday’s game against the Wild is Nashville’s third of four consecutive games against a fellow Central Division team to close out the 2014-15 regular season. The four-game stretch comes on the heels of the Preds’ month of March where Nashville faced just two Central Division teams. Overall, the Preds are 15-8-4 against the Central Division and 9-4-0 against them on home ice.

All-time, Nashville is 27-18-(5)-7 against the Wild and 15-7-(3)-2 on Bridgestone Arena ice.

Home Finale Celebration:

Tonight, the Predators celebrate their regular season home finale with a host of features and giveaways.
  • Beginning at 5 p.m. (CT), a Plaza Party presented by Lee Company
    • Goldwalk: Wear gold and enter like a player to receive Preds prizes
    • Live music
    • Food and drink specials
  • All fans in attendance receive a Nashville Predators hat courtesy of Farm Bureau Insurance
  • All fans in attendance can enter for a chance to win a jersey off a player's back at the end of the game
  • Season-ticket holders will receive select concession stand items for free
  • Fans should be in their seats early to see the Preds' special pregame playoff projection team intro

Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Mike Ribeiro, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg


What to Watch for: Pete and Willy's Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette


Preds Sign Steve Moses:

The Preds announced Thursday morning that they have signed forward Steve Moses to a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2015-16 season. While playing in the KHL this past season, the 25-year-old scored 36 goals, a new KHL single-season record. Read the release here.

Morning Skate Update:

The Preds held a skate prior to this evening's contest with Minnesota, with full participation except for forward Eric Nystrom (lower-body).

Preds Morning Skate Lines:

Forwards:


Forsberg - Ribeiro - Neal

Wilson - Fisher - Smith

Cullen - Jarnkrok - Stalberg

Bourque - Gaustad - Beck

Santorelli

Defensemen:

Josi - Weber

Ekholm - Jones

Ellis - Franson

Bartley - Volchenkov

Goaltenders:

Pekka Rinne*

Carter Hutton

*Probable Starter


Minnesota Update:

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who has started 38 consecutive contests for the Wild, will not start tonight. Darcy Kuemper gets the nod in goal for Minnesota. Via @mnwild, Head Coach Mike Yeo says that Thomas Vanek, Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter will not play tonight.

Minnesota Projected Lineup:

Forwards:


Zucker - Koivu - Stewart

Bergenheim - Granlund - Pominville

Cooke - Brodziak - Fontaine

Carter - Coyle - Schroeder

Defensemen:

Suter - Brodin

Scandella - Spurgeon

Leopold - Dumba

Goaltenders:

Darcy Kuemper*

Nicklas Backstrom

*Confirmed Starter
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