GAMEDAY: Wild at Predators
Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 6:04 PM
Minnesota Wild (20-11-5: 45 points, 6th in Western Conference, 2nd in Northwest Division) vs. Nashville Predators (18-14-4: 40 points, T-8th in Western Conference, 4th in Central Division)
For the first time in more than a month, the Wild is not on top of the Northwest Division. Despite seven-straight losses, the Wild is only a point out of first in the Northwest and five points out of the lead in the Western Conference. Tonight, Minnesota has a chance to get back to its winning ways in Nashville. The club will have to do so without Jared Spurgeon
. Just when it looked like the Wild was getting over the injury bug, Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod hit the defenseman from behind on Monday night. Spurgeon left the game with a lower body injury and won’t play tonight. Likely taking his place will be Elk River native Nate Prosser
, who was recalled from Houston yesterday. Prosser has played in 14 games with the Wild this season and collected four assists.
The Wild came out of its three-day Christmas break with a 4-2 loss to the Avalanche. Mikko Koivu
returned to the lineup and had an assist on Cal Clutterbuck
’s second period goal. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period. Dany Heatley
assisted on both goals. Niklas Backstrom
made 28 saves in the loss.
Despite outshooting the Red Wings 32-22, the Nashville Predators suffered a 4-1 home loss against Detroit on Monday. Jonathon Blum scored the Predators lone goal and Pekka Rinne made 18 saves in the loss.
Wild at Nashville will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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Tonight’s game in Nashville is a McDonald’s Family Four Pack night. For $99 you can get 4 upper level tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 soft drinks.
Despite two straight losses, Nashville is still 7-4-0 in December. Tonight, the Predators will be without its leading point scorer and captain Shea Weber, who is out with a concussion. With Weber out, the Preds recalled highly touted rookie Ryan Ellis, who made his NHL debut on Monday against Detroit. Ellis was Nashville’s first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
In his return Monday, Koivu stayed the Wild’s hottest play. He kept his point streak going with an assist, giving him nine points in his last seven outings, and points in 14 of his last 15 games (7-12=19). Minnesota’s captain recorded two assists in his team's 3-2 win against Nashville earlier this season.
Koivu’s return last game immediately impacted the team’s power play unit. Bouchard's power-play goal against the Avs was Minnesota's first since a Dec. 13. Now with Spurgeon gone, the Wild again will be forced to play without one of its top power play performers.
and Spurgeon have been a defensive combination for most of the season. With Spurgeon out, Scandella was skating with Nick Schultz
at yesterday’s practice. The Wild recalled Prosser and it looks like he'll get into the mix tonight. Minnesota also recalled forward Jon DiSalvatore
from Houston, and likely will make his Wild debut tonight.
It looks like DiSalvatore will be in tonight, but the sitting forward is a game-time decision. Palmer is an option, but here are what the forward lines might look like:
Prosser looks like he'll return to the Wild blue line tonight. Like the forwards, the D-pairings are a game-time decision:
will get the nod and has a 4-4-0 record with a 2.88 goal against average and a .909 save percentage in eight starts against the Predators. Harding recorded the victory in the team's first meeting with Nashville this season.
The sitting forward is a game-time decision, but likely between Colton Gillies
and Jarod Palmer
. Game-time decision for the D as well, but likely sitting out will be Mike Lundin
Spurgeon (lower body) will miss his first game of the season. Stoner (lower body), Devin Setoguchi
(lower body), Casey Wellman
(upper body) and Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion) are out.
“We have to have a mentality to shoot the puck.”
- Mike Yeo on the team’s power play
D Jack Hillen is a native of Minnetonka and won a 2002 state high school championship with the Academy of Holy Angels.
Tonight the Wild plays its first of back-to-back games. This season, the Wild has not won the first of back-to-backs, having gone 0-5-0. The Wild is 2-1-2 in the second.