Players to watch:
NSH- Craig Smith
Is Smith starting to break out of his funk? The rookie All-Star has points in three consecutive games. Also, his 18 road points lead the team.
MIN- Dany Heatley
Heatley is on pace for 25 goals and 56 points, which would be his worst season since the lockout. However, he has 10 goals and 19 points in 15 career games vs. Nashville.
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2011-12 stats: 28-11-4, 2.36 GAA)
MIN- Niklas Backstrom (2011-12 stats: 13-12-4, 2.43 GAA)
NSH- Francis Bouillon and Jerred Smithson (upper body, probable)
MIN- Mikko Koivu (shoulder, out), Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion, out), Jarod Palmer (upper body, out)
Keys to the game:
NSH- Play Predator Hockey… Some are worried that the Preds’ momentum is going to be halted by the All-Star break. To get back into the groove, they have to come out of the gates playing Predator Hockey against a desperate Wild team. If the Preds can dictate the pace and get out to an early lead, they should be fine.
MIN- Win special teams battle… One reason the Preds have gone 12-2-0 in their last 14 is due to their special teams. If Minnesota wants to win tonight they’ll have to step up on the power play and stay out of the box. They were solid on special teams in their last two games, both of which were victories.
Numbers to know:
- The Preds are 14-9-1 on the road this season … Minnesota is 13-6-3 at home.
- The Preds are 8-5-0 against the Northwest Division this season … Minnesota is 7-1-4 against the Central.
- This is the third head-to-head meeting this season. The two teams split the first two games, with the home team winning each time.
- All-time in Minnesota, the Preds are 6-10-(3)-2. The Preds, who lost in Minnesota on Nov. 23, have earned a split at Xcel Energy Center in each of the last three seasons.
- Pekka Rinne is 7-3-1 with a 2.02 GAA, .924 save percentage and 3 shutouts in 12 career games vs. the Wild. His likely counterpart, Niklas Backstrom, is 7-4-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .903 save percentage in 11 career games vs. Nashville.
- Nick Spaling has 5 points in 6 career games vs. Minnesota, the most offensive success he has seen against any NHL team.
- Power play rankings: Nashville (22.5%, 2nd) … Minnesota (14.6%, 23rd)
- Penalty kill: Nashville (83.1%, 12th) … Minnesota (82.9%, 14th)
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