The Nashville Predators look to return to their winning ways after three tough games. Tonight, they face the Minnesota Wild in Bridgestone.
The end of the season is often the most challenging time for any team. Several teams are fighting for their postseason lives, attempting to play the aggressor in every game. Those who are not in the playoff hunt often want to play spoiler to their opponents or bring up young talent to evaluate. For the Nashville Predators, who are atop the NHL, they are taking the best shot of every team they play. While they lost three consecutive games, the Predators are still considered a favorite to win the Western Conference.
Many fans are starting to open the covering to the panic button, but there is no need to be too concerned. At least not yet. The Predators played a tough stretch of games against really good teams. The offense pushed as much as they could, but the defense struggled to keep opponents out of high danger areas. They certainly did not look like the fastest or most aggressive team in their last three games.
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All of that is in the rearview mirror and focus is on the Minnesota Wild now. The two teams face each other tonight at Bridgestone Arena, just three days after their last meeting. The Wild won that game. Can the Predators take advantage of home ice tonight?
What to watch
The Wild are on a five-game point streak, including two road wins. In their last game, the Wild fell to the Bruins in overtime in an offensive struggle. Minnesota is 3-1 against Nashville this season, losing in Nashville earlier in the season. On Saturday, the Predators were called for five penalties, including a delay of game and too many men on the ice. Small lapses in judgment caused the fall of the Predators in recent games.
If Nashville wants to win tonight, they must control play at the net. The Wild scored three goals at the net on Saturday on six high-danger chances. Nashville won the shot-share battle, but scrums around the net led to a Wild win. Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist in that game.
The third and fourth lines for the Predators have struggled a bit of late, earning only a goal and two assists in the last three games and giving up five goals as well. With Calle Jarnkrok out, the third line has not found their rhythm on the ice. For the Predators to win, all lines need to contribute.
There will be a small shake-up to the roster tonight. Miikka Salomaki will be on the third line. His aggressive play will add much-needed energy to the line. Scott Hartnell moves back to the fourth line. After missing the last game, Alexei Emelin looks to return tonight. Mattias Ekholm missed today’s morning skate.
Alexei Emelin – P.K. Subban
Where to watch
As usual, Nashville Predators’ fans can watch the game tonight on Fox Sports Tennessee, with game time at 7:00 p.m. Pregame broadcast will start at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch on the Fox Sports Go app. Radio broadcast can be heard on 102.5 The Game in Nashville.