Though it’s a bit nippy outside, the Wild is fully embracing the (continued) wintery dip in temperatures. Tonight, Xcel Energy Center will be home to a Polar Vortex of its own, done up in all white, as the Wild hosts the Predators in its final game before the Olympic Break.
Though the players are getting ready to jet off to warmer climates over the next few weeks, they have one more game to focus on against a very familiar Central Division opponent. Tonight marks the fourth of five meetings this season with Nashville. The Wild are 2-1 on the season, taking the last two decisions with a pair of shut out decisions — Josh Harding earned a 2-0 shutout victory Oct. 22 at Xcel Energy Center, while Darcy Kuemper registered his first NHL career shutout Jan. 12 with a 4-0 decision in Nashville.
Kuemper will get a chance to extend his shutout minutes against the Predators tonight as he gets his 12th-straight start between the pipes this evening. The mark extends his franchise record of most consecutive games played by a rookie netminder.
While the Wild’s blue line got a boost Tuesday with the return of Jared Spurgeon, it will be without the consistent presence of Marco Scandella tonight. Just two minutes after being reunited with his defensive partner, Scandella suffered a lower-body injury Tuesday night and will get tonight off.
This morning, forward Stephane Veilleux cleared waivers and has been reassigned to Iowa. Meanwhile, goaltender Johan Gustafsson has been recalled from the AHL and will back up tonight. Niklas Backstrom is dealing with soreness but will hopefully be better after the break.
Tuesday night the Wild edged out the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 as netminder Darcy Kuemper made 34 stops on the night. Nino Niederreiter and Dany Heatley each scored for the Wild, both on primary assists from Spurgeon as he made his return from injury.
The Predators haven’t seen action since Saturday, where they earned a point as it dropped a shootout decision, 4-3. Goaltender Carter Hutton made 31 saves on the night as Paul Guastad, Mike Fisher and Roman Josi each found the back of the net.
Meet the Perds
Though Nashville sits in last place in the Central Division, it sits seven points ahead of any other last-place team in the NHL. With a 25-23-9 record heading into tonight, the Predators sit just eight points behind the fourth place Wild. They have picked up points in six of their last seven contests.
Their offense is led by David Legwand’s 39 points (10-29=39), though Craig Smith leads with 16 goals (16-18=34).
If You’re Going
Tonight is White Jersey Night, so be sure to wear yours! Don’t have one? No worries, we’ve got you covered. All fans will receive a white t-shirt large enough to sport over even the heaviest of winter coats. So wear it!
Also, be sure to check out the “Our Favorite Things” baskets the players and their wives and girl friends made near section 104. All proceeds from the silent auction benefit the Wild foundation.
The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Spurgeon tallied two assists, his third multi-point game this season and eighth of his career, as he returned to the lineup Tuesday. He missed the previous 14 games due to a lower-body injury.
As this morning was an optional skate, we won't know the lines for certain until game time, but here's what they looked like yesterday:
Stoner will step back into the lineup as Marco Scandella was injured Tuesday:
Between The Pipes
Kuemper has only faced the Predators once, stopping all 23 shots faced for his first career shutout.
Yeo Quote Of The Day
So far we’ve done a good job of staying focused on the task at hand. I’ve been a part of too many games every team has where you have an All-Star Break or a Christmas Break, and if you don’t have the right focus, then it can be disappointing.
-Yeo on one more game until the Olympic Break.
View From The Press Box
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. 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.
The Wild has won four straight games on home ice and is 20-7-2 in Saint Paul this season, winning 16 of its last 22 games and 20 of its last 27 contests on home ice. The Wild has also earned points in seven of its last nine games overall (5-2-2) and is 10-4-2 in 2014.
Wild vs. Nashville will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
|Back to top ↑|