7:00 PM CT – Wild (34-35-10) @ Predators (45-26-8)
Players to watch:
MIN- Mikko Koivu
The Wild captain has 25 points in 22 career games against the Predators.
NSH- Martin Erat
Erat has one point in the last four games. He’s due for a big game offensively.
Projected starting goaltenders:
MIN- Niklas Backstrom (2011-12 stats: 19-17-6, 2.43 GAA)
NSH- Anders Lindback (2011-12 stats: 3-8-0, 2.63 GAA)
MIN- Warren Peters (upper body, questionable), Matt Cullen (finger, out), Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Jared Spurgeon and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion, out), Mike Lundin (sports hernia, out), Steven Kampfer (knee, out), Matt Kassian (groin, out)
Keys to the game:
MIN- Quality first period… To play spoiler for a fourth straight game, Mike Yeo’s Wild will need to get off to a good start and take the crowd out of the game. In the last two games, wins over the Kings and Blackhawks, Minnesota has scored first early on.
NSH- Don’t overlook the opponent… As mentioned, the Wild has played playoff teams tough of late. After a week-long gauntlet against divisional opponents, the Predators can’t overlook the Wild tonight. They’ll have to play a smart game and focus on the task hand – not the difference in records.
Numbers to know:
- The Preds are 24-10-5 at home this season … Minnesota is 15-19-6 on the road.
- The Preds are 11-6-1 against the Northwest Division this season … Minnesota is 8-6-4 against the Central.
- This is the fourth and final meeting of the season. The Preds have won two of the three meetings, including Jan. 31 in Minnesota where they erased a three-goal third period deficit to win 5-4.
- The Preds have won four of their last five home games against the Wild.
- Anders Lindback is 0-0-0 with a 3.00 GAA and .857 save percentage in 1 career game vs. the Wild. His likely counterpart, Niklas Backstrom, is 7-4-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .903 save percentage in 11 career games vs. Nashville.
- Power play rankings: Nashville (22.0%, 1st) … Minnesota (15.4%, 25th)
- Penalty kill: Nashville (83.0%, 13th) … Minnesota (81.4%, 18th)