Nashville Predators in for a Wild night in Minnesota

(Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images) /

After their first regulation loss 17 games, the Nashville Predators take on the Minnesota Wild tonight in a possible playoff preview.

And…….we are back. To hockey that is. To say the loss on Thursday to the Toronto Maple Leafs was disappointing would be true, but it is not a diminish the season being presented. Still the top team in the NHL, the Nashville Predators return to action tonight in Minnesota. It is the first of crucial back-to-back games on the road. While a win is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged.

The loss on Thursday did have some negative impacts in terms of the Predators standings. In what was a four-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning is now a tie, although Nashville has a game in hand. Vegas also took advantage of the chance to gain on Nashville and now trails by only six points. However, it is Winnipeg that truly made the most of their chances. The Jets have won four straight, and all at home. They await the Predators tomorrow evening.

As for the Wild, their recent play has them in playoff position for the sixth consecutive season. A win at Vegas and tie against the Los Angeles Kings proves their potent playoff potential. Currently, they sit two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for third in the Central Division.

Will it be the Nashville Predators extending their points lead or will the Wild make a major statement?

What to watch

Honestly, the Predators looked sluggish and out of sync on Thursday night. Toronto skated around with ease and scored due to some mental lapses. Now that the franchise-best scoring streak is over, Nashville gets a fresh start. With the bitter taste of defeat still lingering, it is best followed by a sweet victory…..or two.

But the Wild are no slouch of an opponent. Like the Predators, Minnesota is blessed with balanced scoring across the roster. The Wild are led by forward Eric Staal, whose 71 points is tied for 21st in the NHL. He is fourth in the league with 39 goals. Defensemen Ryan Suter is fourth on the team in points with 49, but only 6 goals. Outside of Staal, only one other Wild player has 20+ goal. That would be Jason Zucker.

The Wild are without defensemen Jared Spurgeon, who has a torn hamstring.

In order to win, the Predators will need to show they are not worse for wear. While their roster remains mostly intact, missing only Calle Jarnkrok to injury, the Predators seem out of balance lately. They have scored three or fewer goals in five of their last 10 games. They scored only four goals in the rest of those games. The last time the Predators scored more than four was against the Winnipeg Jets on February 27.

Viktor Arvidsson is on his way to a second consecutive 60 point season, leading the team with 56 points. Linemate Filip Forsberg is not far behind at 53.

Projected Lineup

The Predators hope to return to their winning ways tonight and will deploy a more traditional lineup. The first two lines will be the normal JoFa and Turris combinations With Jarnkrok out, Ryan Hartman is slotted in the third line with Nick Bonino and Scott Hartnell. With games on consecutive nights, expect either Mike Fisher or Colton Sissons to trade games. That leaves Miikka Salomaki and Austin Watson to play wings on the fourth line.

Pekka Rinne should get the start in-goal tonight.


Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith

Scott Hartnell – Nick Bonino – Ryan Hartman

Miikka Salomaki – Colton Sissons / Mike Fisher – Austin Watson


Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm – P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin – Yannick Weber


Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Next: Preds potential first-round opponents

Where to watch

Tonight game from Minnesota will be broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee starting at 7:00 p.m. Central time, with pre-game starting at 6:30 p.m. Away from a television? No problem. Use your mobile device and watch on the Fox Sports Go app. Those wanting to hear Pete Weber call the game can tune into 102.5 The Game in Nashville.