Game Day: Wild vs.  Before Preview

Game Day: Wild vs. Before Preview

The stakes will be heightened once more when the Nashville Predators host a divisional foe in tonight’s contest versus the Minnesota Wild. This is the third of four meetings between Nashville and Minnesota this season; it’s the first of two at home with the final outing set for the final week of the regular season.

The Preds were dealt a 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabers on Friday evening, and Nashville will be looking to get back to embracing that playoff mentality throughout the final four weeks of the regular season as they look to keep pace in the Western Conference. That next challenge comes tonight, and after three days with some rest and an up-tempo practice mixed in, the Predators are feeling ready once more.

“Look at how tight the playoff race is right now,” Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm said after Monday’s practice. “We know these last 14 games are going to be very important, and it starts [tonight]… We got a little bit of a reset here for three days, and should be ready to go [tonight]. “

“Everyone’s playing for something, and I think that’s something that you want to hold your hat on,” Preds Head Coach John Hynes said Monday. “That’s the next step for our team. Can we play our best when the stakes are the highest at this point in the season? And I think it’s a great challenge for us.”

Nashville’s lineup remained unchanged on Friday night in Buffalo. Defense Matt Tennyson and I’m Harpuras well as forward Matt Luff, were scratched. Blueliners Dante Fabbro (week-to-week) and Mark Borowiecki (week-to-week) remained out with their respective injuries.

The Good Guys:

Filip Forsberg, Michael McCarron and newcomer Jeremy Lauzon each found the back of the net Friday evening in Buffalo with Lauzon tallying his first with the Preds. Goaltender Juuse Saros got the start and made 31 saves, but fell short as he ultimately took his 21st loss on the season.

Preds Captain Roman Josi leads all NHL defensemen and is tied for 13th in the NHL in points this season with 81 (18g-63a). He was named the NHL’s First Star of the Month for the month of March, the first such honor of his career. He led the NHL with 32 points (4g-28a) during the month, becoming the first defenseman to outright lead the NHL in scoring during a month since Paul Coffey in February 1990.

Josi continues to lead his club in points as well with 81 (18g-63a), followed by Matt Duchene with 70 (35g-35a) and Forsberg with 67 (38g-29a). Ryan Johansen has 51 points (17g-34a), Mikael Granlund has 50 (9g-41a) and Tanner Jeannot has 40 (23g-17a). Saros is now 33-21-3 in net; netminder David Rittich is 5-3-1.

The Opposition:

The Wild have won nine of their last 10 outings, including a 5-1 victory over Washington on Sunday. Kirill Kaprizov leads his club in points with 85 (39g-46a), followed by Mats Zuccarello with 69 (20g-49a) and former Preds forward Kevin Fiala with 61 (23g-38a). Goaltender Cam Talbot is 28-12-2 in net; netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, who was acquired from Chicago at the Trade Deadline, is 22-21-5 this season.

All-Time Meetings:

Nashville is 2-0-0 against Minnesota this season with both victories coming on the road (5-2 on Oct. 24 and 6-2 on March 13). The Predators are 41-26- (5) -8 all-time against the Wild, including a 24-9- (2) -4 record at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators are 4-1-0 in their last five games vs. the Wild; they are 9-1-0 in their last 10; and 5-0-0 in their last five at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators have won nine of their last 10 games vs. the Wild, a stretch that included a seven-game win streak from March 27, 2018-Oct. 24, 2019. Nashville allowed two-or-fewer goals in six of those seven wins. Nashville has not lost to Minnesota on home ice since Dec. 27, 2016, a seven-game span.

Notables Versus Minnesota:

Josi owns eight points (3g-5a) in two games against the Wild this season. Two of his four four-point efforts in 2021-22 have come against Minnesota. Forsberg scored his first career NHL goal on Oct. 8, 2013 Minnesota. Forsberg’s 15 goals against the Wild are tied for the second-most he’s scored against a single opponent in his NHL career; he had three points (2g-1a) in Nashville’s 6-2 win at Minnesota on March 13.

Johansen has 22 points (7g-15a) in 30 career games vs. the Wild, including 12 points (5g-7a) in his last 13 meetings. He scored twice in Nashville’s win at Minnesota on Oct. 24. Duchene has recorded 29 points (7g-22a) in 48 career games against the Wild.

Granlund was acquired from Minnesota in February 2019; he played parts of seven seasons for the Wild from 2012-19 and posted 93 goals and 317 points. Luke Kunin was drafted 15th overall by the Wild in the 2016 NHL Draft. Kunin appeared in 131 games for Minnesota from 2017-20, tallying 52 points (23g-29a).

Wild Head Coach Dean Evason served as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals – Nashville’s AHL affiliate – from 2012-18. Minnesota forwards Kevin Fiala (2015-19), Frederick Gaudreau (2016-19) and Ryan Hartman (2018-19) were previous members of the Predators.

Watch & Listen:

This evening’s game will be shown exclusively on ESPN + & Hulu streaming services with a 7 pm CT puck drop. For more information on ESPN + and Hulu, click here. On the radio side, Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 6:30 pm with Darren McFarland. Tonight’s game will also be broadcasted on El Jefe presented by Don Beto powered by ETHNIX GROUP and will be carried on 96.7 FM, 105.3 FM and 810 AM.

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