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Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild Preview: Where the Wild Things Are

After Tuesday’s crazy comeback win, how will the Preds follow it up?

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators play host to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, in the first of five games between the two teams this season. Nashville is 17-8-5 all time against Minnesota at home.

The Predators come into tonight’s contest 2-3-0 in their last five. However, they are coming off a comeback win against division rival St. Louis Tuesday night, giving the Preds their 10th home win of the season. Nashville is looking to get a winning streak going on their three-game home stand before heading on the road to Philadelphia and New Jersey - an area the team has struggled with all season.

The Wild come into Nashville red-hot - going undefeated in their last five games. They are second in the Central behind the Blackhawks and are six points ahead of the Predators. Eric Staal has undergone a resurgence in Minnesota and leads the team in scoring with 20 points.

This is a big game for both teams with the chance to take two points against a division foe and start inching closer to Chicago in the standings.

The Minnesota Wild

The Wild have lost three of their last four games against the Predators, and have given up a bunch of goals in the process.

Devan Dubnyk has been nothing short of spectacular this season. He is 14-6-3 and leads the NHL in save percentage (.947) and goals-against-average (1.60). The Preds are fifth in the league in scoring and Dubnyk is one of the hottest goalies in the league, so the question remains who blinks first?

The Wild are riding a five-game win streak into Bridgestone Arena, averaging 3.2 goals-per-game during that span. The Preds have been susceptible to slow starts all year long. With the hottest goalie in the league and offense that is scoring in bunches lately, can Minnesota jump out to an early lead in this one?

The Nashville Predators

Nashville has won three of the last four meetings between these two teams - scoring three goals in each victory.

The Preds are 10-2-2 at home this season and are outscoring their opponents 51-28 at Bridgestone Arena. They have the third best home goal differential in the NHL (+23). The difference between this team at home and on the road is night and day.

For perhaps the first time in the franchise’s history, offense has not been a problem. They are the only Western Conference team to average three goals-per-game, and rank sixth in the league in goals. Viktor Arvidsson is riding a career-high four-game point streak in Thursday night’s contest. Arvidsson has already surpassed his scoring output from last season and continues to make the Predators must-see hockey.

Mike Ribeiro has quietly had a good couple of games. Ribeiro has seven points (1 G, 6 A) in his last seven games - including two mutli-point games. Ribeiro is the Preds’ second leading scorer with 19 points and leads the team in assists with 15.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Filip Forsberg goal alert! Forsberg scored his third goal of the season Tuesday against the Blues, breaking an eight game goal scoring drought. Forsberg has the potential to go on a run and start piling up goals. Can he get on a roll Thursday against the Wild and start scoring like the $6 million player he is?
  2. After Tuesday’s game, the locker room was buzzing with the potential the team showed in their come-from-behind win. Phrases such as ‘confidence boost’, ‘build from this’, and ‘change your season’ were being used. With the Predators riding high from Tuesday’s win, which team will show up on Thursday; the team that fell behind 3-0 and couldn’t get going, or the team that scored six unanswered goals and looked like world-beaters?
  3. Ryan Ellis is back. The 5-foot-10 defenseman may be small in stature but not in what he brings to this lineup. After missing eight games with an upper-body injury, he slid right back in the lineup next to Roman Josi and instantly provided the defense with a boost. Ellis’ return allowed Matt Irwin to play alongside Yannick Weber and give the Preds three well-balanced defensive pairings. There is no question this defense is fun to watch when they are at full strength.

Song of the Game

Wild Things - Alessia Cara

Sights and Sounds

You can watch the game on FS-TN or the Fox Sports Go app. You can also listen to it live on 102.5 The Game radio. Puck drops at 7:00pm CST.