The Nashville Predators head home after a rough loss in Tampa to take on the Minnesota Wild. The teams’ previous meeting was a big win for the Preds; they’ll hope to channel some of the same energy tonight. The Wild, meanwhile, have won four in a row, seven of their last eight, and haven’t lost in regulation since the last time the two teams faced off. Both their overtime losses in that span have been to the St. Louis Blues, who currently have the tiebreaker on them for home ice in the Central Division matchup. The Wild are going to be highly motivated to win tonight.
As before, they’ve combined spectacular shooting luck with great even-strength defense to make up for a so-so offense and slightly below-average goaltending. Mats Zuccarello is out with a lower-body injury, Marcus Foligno is in COVID-19 protocol, and Matt Dumba is still out long-term. Alex Goligoski and Jordan Greenway have not played, but I don’t know whether they can be expected to return tonight.
Kirill Kaprizov has broken the 100-point mark, with a team-leading 45 goals and 56 assists. Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala, with 33 and 32 goals respectively, trail him in that stat. With Zuccarello and his 55 assists out for the night, Fiala is Wild’s other leading assist producer with 50. Hartman, Frederick Gaudreau, and Jared Spurgeon are behind him with 29 each.
Marc-Andre Fleury has come down to earth with a still-very-good sv% of .918 with the Wild this season. He’s won every game he’s started for them except the one the Preds saw him in. Cam Talbot maintains a respectable .911 sv%.
The Wild’s special teams are fairly average—the penalty kill a little worse than average, which makes sense since their PK defense isn’t nearly as good as their 5v5 defense—but after last night’s thrashing by the Tampa Bay Lightning’s power play I would like to see the Preds play a disciplined game anyway. There’s no reason to consistently give your goalie extra work while taking your best skaters off the ice, especially on the second half of a back-to-back.
How to Watch
The game airs at 7 PM Central on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.
Statistics from naturalstattrick.com. Further background from hockeyviz.com.