The Minnesota Wild looks to get back on track on the second night of a back-to-back, tonight skating against the Nashville Predators. The Wild has split two games against the Preds this season, Nashville taking the first game, 3-2, at home on Oct. 8 and the Wild winning, 2-0, at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 22.
Tonight could be the first time a former Preds player will return to Nashville after signing a free-agent contract with Minnesota. Jonathon Blum was Nashville’s first-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Blum recorded 22 points (7-15=22) in 91 games with the Predators (2010-13). If he’s in the lineup, will his return be treated like fellow blueliner Ryan Suter?
Darcy Kuemper will get the start in goal tonight. He's coming off a 39 save shootout win, 2-1, against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
The Wild looks to bounce back after yesterday’s 4-2 loss at home to the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. Charlie Coyle scored both of the Wild’s goals in the second period, but the Avs tallied the game winner in the third and added an empty netter late.
It was Coyle’s first two-goal game of his career. Coyle’s goals were 40 seconds apart, setting a franchise record for fastest two goals by a Wild player at Xcel Energy Center and eclipsing Ryan Suter’s mark of 42 seconds, set earlier this month against Washington on Jan. 4.
The Predators skated last night, dropping a 2-1 shootout to the Ottawa Senators. Mike Fisher scored the team’s lone regulation goal. Marek Mazanec made 20 saves in the game, but allowed two shootout goals for the loss.
Meet the Perds
Only one team in the Western Conference has scored fewer goals than the Predators' 108, and its minus-23 goal differential is third-worst in the Conference. Despite losing five of its last six games, Nashville has found a way to get at least a point in six of its past eight games.
Shea Weber has five points in Nashville's last five games, including a pair of two-assist games. He leads the team with 29 points, while he’s third in goals (10) and second in assists (19)
If You’re Going
They’re not booing; they’re saying “Suuuuuter.” Well, not really. Since signing with the Wild, Suter has been booed mercilessly in the two games returning to Nashville. We’ll see if Smashville keeps the boo birds out for Suter and if Blum it treated the same way if he’s in the lineup.
Dany Heatley earned the primary assist on both of Coyle’s goals earning his second multi-point game of the season and 193rd of his career.
Probable Wild Lineup
Here’s what the lineup has looked like in the last few games:
If there are no changes on the blue line:
Between the Pipes
We should know tonight’s starting goaltender after the team meeting. Backstrom is 9-5-1 with a 2.66 GAA and a .908 SV% in 16 games (14 starts) vs. Nashville. Darcy Kuemper has never faced Nashville.
Yeo Quote of the Day
We're short some bodies right now and we don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got a game against a team is desperate and they’re going to play hard.
- Yeo on the team’s injuries and facing the Preds
View From the Press Box
If there are no lineup changes, defenseman Keith Ballard and forward Mike Rupp will be tonight’s healthy scratches. Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jared Spurgeon are all listed on IR with lower-body injuries. Josh Harding joins them due to illness.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
C Matt Cullen, a native of Virginia, spent the last three seasons with the Wild collecting 101 points (33- 68=101) in 193 games. C Matt Hendricks is a native of Blaine and went to St. Cloud State (2000-04). LW Eric Nystrom skated in 82 games with Minnesota in 2010-11. Nashville Assistant Coach Phil Housley is a native of South Saint Paul and previously coached at Stillwater High School.
With a win tonight, Minnesota would earn its first three-game road-winning streak of the season and the first since April 7-16, 2013. However, the team hasn’t fared well on the second night of back-to-backs going 1-4-1 on the second night thus far.
Wild at Nashville will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North PLUS with a start time at 6 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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