The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling
NASHVILLE – The Wild will play its final road game of the regular season on Sunday when it plays the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Minnesota will look to salvage the final game of the season series with its Central Division rival, which has won each of the first three games, all by multiple goals.
Despite those setbacks, the Wild has already clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where it will play the St. Louis Blues in the First Round once the postseason commences in a little over a week. Home ice in the series is the only thing left to be decided.
Nashville is in the driver’s seat for the top wild card spot in the Western Conference with four games remaining in the regular season but still hasn’t clinched a spot in the playoffs.
If the Wild is to extend it’s nine-game point streak and win the final game of the season series, it will need to do so short a couple of regulars.
Matt Dumba and Jordan Greenwayeach nursing upper-body injuries, are on the trip but won’t play in the game. Marcus Foligno (COVID-19 protocol) won’t play either. Mats Zuccarello is out after sustaining a lower-body injury in Minnesota’s 6-3 win over the Seattle Kraken on Friday night.
The good news regarding Zuccarello is that the injury isn’t serious.
“Won’t come with us. But this time of year,” Wild coach Dean Evason said after the game on Friday, indicating the absence is more precautionary.
Even without those critical pieces of the lineup, the Wild still has a number of guys entering the game on hot streaks, perhaps none hotter than forward Kevin Fialawho set a franchise record Friday by assisting on five goals.
The five assists moved him to 50 helpers on the campaign, making him the third Wild player to reach that milestone this season.
Kirill Kaprizov scored a goal and had three assists versus the Kraken, moving him past the century mark in points on the season. He became the seventh Russian-born player in NHL history to tally at least 100 points in a season and the seventh player in the league this season to reach 100.
“Of course it’s a huge accomplishment to be a part of that list,” Kaprizov said through a translator. “I think at the end of the day, I want to continue to keep this momentum going, continue to progress and get better. Early in the season, there were a couple of games where I wasn’t producing and thank God the team was For me, obviously it’s a huge accomplishment and I’m so thankful to be on a list with such greats, but at the end of the day, we need to focus, we have playoffs coming up and it’s about getting better every single game and continuing this momentum. ”
Nashville lost 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
Roman Josi and Alexandre Carrier scored goals for the Preds, as the team’s captain, Josi, crossed the 90-point plateau this season.
Beyond Josi, forward Matt Duchene leads the club with 40 goals and is second on the team with 79 points. Filip Forsberg has 39 goals and 77 points.
All-Star goaltender Juuse Saros made 24 saves in a losing effort against the Lightning on Saturday night, meaning David Rittich should be in line to get the start. He’s 5-3-2 with a 3.33 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage in 14 games (10 starts) this season.