(17-7-6) Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators (15-11-6)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #MINvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
The Nashville Predators return home tonight for a Golden Saturday as they host the Minnesota Wild in a Central Division clash. The Preds have traveled to Minnesota twice already this season, winning one contest 3-2, and falling 4-0 in the other.
Nashville is coming off of a 2-1 defeat to the Blues in St. Louis on Thursday, giving the Preds their third consecutive defeat. Despite the lack of victories as of late, the Predators are remaining positive, confident that a breakthrough is coming soon.
“Any time you face adversity, you try to work your way out of it and that’s the biggest thing,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “I know it sounds boring, but you have to just keep working and try to stay positive. The mental part is the biggest thing, and you try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We still have a great team. I love my teammates, I love this team, so [tonight] it’s another great opportunity for us. A lot of times, the only thing you need is one win.”
The Wild defeated the New York Rangers on Thursday night by a 5-2 final, giving Minnesota points in nine consecutive contests (6-0-3).
Preds Captain Shea Weber ranks second among NHL defensemen with eight power-play goals and is third with nine goals. His D-partner, and Nashville's leading scorer, Roman Josi, is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen with eight goals and is eighth in points (8g-15a-23pts). Josi is also one of six NHL defensemen to post a shorthanded goal this season.
Weber, along with forwards James Neal and Filip Forsberg are all tied for second on the Preds in points - behind Josi - with 20 apiece. Neal leads the club in goals with 12; Forsberg has registered 14 assists. Mike Ribeiro has 13 helpers and 16 points on the campaign, while Craig Smith has tallied seven goals. Rinne is 12-9-6 on the season with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
Forsberg has a point in two of his past four games against the Wild (1g-1a), while Josi has scored a goal in two of his past four games versus Minnesota (3g). Rinne has three career shutouts against the Wild, tying his career high versus any team.
Mikko Koivu leads Minnesota in points on the season with 28, including eight goals. Thomas Vanek has potted 11 goals for the Wild and is tied for second on the team in points with 24. Former Preds defenseman Ryan Suter also has 24 points to his name; Zach Parise has found the back of the net 10 times this season. Devan Dubnyk owns a 14-7-2 record with a 2.29 goals-against average and a . 918 save percentage.
Three different Preds have scored a goal against the Wild so far this season (Mike Fisher, Cody Hodgson, Josi), while Weber has the team's only assist. The Preds are looking for their first win at home against Minnesota since Oct. 8, 2013. All-time, the Preds are 26-21-12 against the Wild.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Colin Wilson, Mattias Ekholm and James Neal
What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Forward Mike Fisher (IR; lower-body) skated with the Predators during their morning skate on Saturday. Fisher, who has been out of the Preds lineup since Dec. 1, took line rushes with the d-pairings and is not expected to play this evening.
| ||Forwards || |
|Filip Forsberg ||Mike Ribeiro ||Craig Smith |
|Colin Wilson ||Calle Jarnkrok ||James Neal |
|Viktor Arvidsson ||Colton Sissons ||Cody Hodgson |
|Eric Nystrom ||Paul Gaustad ||Miikka Salomaki |
| ||Defense || |
|Roman Josi ||Shea Weber |
|Barret Jackman ||Seth Jones |
|Mattias Ekholm ||Ryan Ellis |
Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is the expected starter in net with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.
Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto, (F) Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), (F) Mike Fisher (IR; lower-body), (F) Austin Watson
| ||Forwards || |
|Zach Parise ||Mikael Granlund ||Jason Pominville |
|Jason Zucker ||Mikko Koivu ||Thomas Vanek |
|Nino Niederreiter ||Charlie Coyle ||Justin Fontaine |
|Chris Porter ||Jarret Stoll ||Ryan Carter |
| ||Defense || |
|Ryan Suter ||Jared Spurgeon |
|Marco Scandella ||Jonas Brodin |
|Nate Prosser ||Matt Dumba |
Goaltenders: Devan Dubnyk is the expected starter in net with Darcy Kuemper serving as the backup.
Extra: (F) Erik Haula, (G) Niklas Backstrom