Preview #42: The Wild Visit Nashville For First Of Two Visits This Season

By Amanda DiPaolo

Season Records

Minnesota Wild 21-16-5
Nashville Predators 22-13-6

ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 16: Martin Havlat of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Xcel Energy Center on October 16, 2010 in St Paul, Minnesota. The Blue Jackets defeated the Wild 3-2. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Maybe it was his time in the Central Division, but Martin Havlat has the Predators number (Photo: Yardbarker.com)

The Nashville Predators return home to Bridgestone Arena on a five game winning streak, having just swept their trip through California. Minnesota has gone 4-1 since they last met the Nashville Predators and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. On December 31st, the Predators snapped a five-game losing streak against the Wild, winning by a 4-1 score. Tuesday night, Minnesota, with a 11-6-3 road record, is looking for its fourth straight road win.

The goaltending battle is expected to be between Jose Theodore and Pekka Rinne. Theodore has played five straight games. Niklas Backstrom is out with a lower-body injury. Theodore has a 1.83 goals against average versus the Predators.

The Predators will have to keep the offense going if they are going to beat a hot Theodore. Sergei Kostitsyn is currently on a five-game scoring streak. The only other players in Predators history to have longer scoring streaks are JP Dumont and Alexander Radulov who each scored in six consecutive games.

Patric Hornqvist also remains hot for Nashville. His scoring streak ended at four games on Saturday night, but he assisted on Kostitsyn’s goal. The assist extended Hornqvist’s point streak to five games. Hornqvist has five goals and three assists in his last five contests.

Nashville’s top defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter continue to impress. Weber has recorded points in each of Nashville’s last five wins with two goals and seven assists. The captain has 14 points in his last 14 games. Suter has assists in four straight games.

In addition to Nashville’s potent offense as of late, the goaltending of Rinne has been spectacular. Rinne has allowed only one goal in his last four starts and a a 1.00 goals against average with a .969 save percentage during that span. He overall goals against average is 2.16 which is good for fourth in the League and has a .926 save percentage, good for fifth in the NHL.

Anders Lindback was in goal Thursday night against the Kings in Nashville’s win, improving his record to 10-3-2.

It is a tough call who wins the special teams battle between Nashville and Minnesota. The Predators have killed off 19 of the last 20 man-down situations for 95% since Christmas Break, and are fifth in the League overall. However, Minnesota is a top 10 power play team and are even better on the road than they are at home, connecting 22.4% of their road power play opportunities.

Nashville has moved up from 28th in the League to 25th overall on the power play. However, the power play has been connecting more in recent games going 10-for-41 over the last 14 games, or 24.4 percent. The Wild are in the middle of the pack on the penalty kill, ranking 14th in the NHL.

Tuesday night’s game at Bridgestone Arena is only one of two games in January still to be played on home ice. Tickets are still available. The Predators next play on Thursday night in Florida.

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