(22-14-8) Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators (19-17-8)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #MINvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
The Nashville Predators return home from a four-game road trip tonight as they host the Minnesota Wild on a Golden Saturday in Smashville. It's the fourth and final meeting between the Central Division rivals this season; the Preds are 2-1 against the Wild thus far in 2015-16.
Nashville is coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, a contest that saw the Predators battle back from a 4-1 deficit, scoring three times in the third period, including the game-tying goal from James Neal with just 14 seconds left on the clock. The goal was Neal's 200th of his NHL career, while rookie forward Kevin Fiala, playing in his first game of the season, scored his first NHL goal.
Tonight's game is the second half of a back-to-back situation for the Wild, after they hosted Winnipeg last night in a 1-0 loss.
Ryan Johansen, who is slated to appear in his first home game since being acquired last week from Columbus, has six points (2g-4a) in his first four games with the Preds, including a three-point outing (1g-2a) against the Jets. Thursday’s effort was Johansen's first three-point contest of the season and first since Feb. 6, 2015 (vs. St. Louis). It was the sixth time in his career that he's had three-or-more points in a single game.
Johansen is also only one point away from notching his 200th career NHL point. When he reaches the mark, he will be the fourth member of the 2010 NHL Draft class to accomplish the feat. Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner, each from Johansen's Draft class, have reached the 200-point plateau.
Roman Josi leads the Preds in points with 31, including nine goals from the blueliner. Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg slot second on the club, both with 28 points each. Forsberg's 12 goals are second only to Neal's team-leading 16, while Ribeiro's 23 assists are first on the team in the category. Captain Shea Weber is fourth on the team with 27 points, including 11 goals. Pekka Rinne is 16-14-7 on the season between the pipes.
Josi has a point in two of his last three games versus the Wild (1g-1a); Weber has an assist in two of his last three against Minnesota (3a). Center Paul Gaustad is expected to appear in his 700th career game this evening.
Mikko Koivu is tops on the Wild in points with 33, followed by former Preds defenseman Ryan Suter with 30. Zach Parise's 16 goals lead the team; Thomas Vanek is second with 14 tallies this season. Devan Dubnyk owns a 18-12-4 record on the season.
Tonight's game will be the 61st meeting all-time between the two clubs. The Predators have an overall record of 27-21-12 against the Wild.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Ryan Johansen, Carter Hutton and Eric Nystrom
What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Forward Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body) skated with the Predators during their morning skate on Saturday; Colin Wilson (IR; lower-body) did not. Goaltender Carter Hutton said following the morning session that he would be making his first home start of the season.
| ||Forwards || |
|Kevin Fiala ||Ryan Johansen ||James Neal |
|Filip Forsberg ||Mike Ribeiro ||Calle Jarnkrok |
|Eric Nystrom ||Mike Fisher ||Craig Smith |
|Miikka Salomaki ||Paul Gaustad ||Cody Bass |
| ||Defense || |
|Roman Josi ||Shea Weber |
|Mattias Ekholm ||Ryan Ellis |
|Barret Jackman ||Anthony Bitetto |
Goaltenders: Carter Hutton is the announced starter in net with Pekka Rinne serving as the backup.
Extra: (D) Petter Granberg (F) Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), (F) Colin Wilson (IR; lower-body), (F) Austin Watson
| ||Forwards || |
|Zach Parise ||Mikael Granlund ||Jason Pominville |
|Jason Zucker ||Mikko Koivu ||Charlie Coyle |
|Thomas Vanek ||Erik Haula ||Nino Niederreiter |
|Chris Porter ||Jarret Stoll ||Justin Fontaine |
| ||Defense || |
|Ryan Suter ||Jared Spurgeon |
|Jonas Brodin ||Matt Dumba |
|Marco Scandella ||Nate Prosser |
Goaltenders: Darcy Kuemper is the expected starter in net with Devan Dubnyk serving as the backup.
Extra: (F) Ryan Carter, (G) Niklas Backstrom, (F) Mike Reilly