Predators-Wild Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 08, 2013
The last thing the sputtering Minnesota Wild need right now is to face arguably the league's best defense and perhaps its hottest goaltender. That, however, is likely what they'll be up against Saturday night when they host the Nashville Predators. Expectations are sky high for the Wild (4-5-1) after the offseason signings of high-scoring forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. A season-opening two-game win streak only reinforced those feelings, but the team has won just twice in its last eight contests and scored three goals during a three-game skid. Minnesota's offense was virtually non-existent again and usually reliable goaltender Niklas Backstrom struggled in Thursday's 4-1 loss to visiting Vancouver. Backstrom gave up two goals in each of the first two periods before he was replaced by Josh Harding. "It's not fun right now. Things aren't going well,'' said Suter, who will face his former team for the second time after Minnesota's 3-1 loss Jan. 22. Defenseman Tom Gilbert scored the Wild's lone goal in the third period Thursday, the team's first on the power play in 13 chances over the last five games. "Would have been a good chance for us to bounce back after not winning on the road trip, but we didn't show up,'' said Parise, who had eight of Minnesota's 23 shots. "Pretty simple.'' Coach Mike Yeo continued to tinker with his lines, putting rookie Charlie Coyle on the first line with Parise and captain Mikko Koivu. Slumping Dany Heatley was moved to the second unit with Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. "The more you press, the more you squeeze your stick, the cuter you try to get, the more you try to force things, all the things that it takes to score goals, believe it or not you start to hurt yourself,'' Yeo said. Heatley has no goals in five games after scoring four in his first five. He does, however, have goals in five straight contests against Nashville (5-2-3), totaling six during that span. But scoring against the Predators has been very difficult. They have the league's lowest goals-against average (1.81) and have allowed the second-fewest even-strength goals (11). Pekka Rinne stopped 32 shots and Colin Wilson had two goals to lead Nashville to its fourth straight victory, 3-0 over Los Angeles on Thursday. Gabriel Bourque also tallied for the Predators, who were back home after outscoring opponents 10-3 in the final three contests on a seven-game trip. "This was a game that I had a lot of concern with,'' coach Barry Trotz said. "When you go on long road trips, every coach will tell you there is a fear the first game back.'' Rinne has stopped 112 of 115 shots in the last four games for a 0.74 GAA. He hasn't surrendered an even-strength goal in over 290 minutes, turning away 94 consecutive non power-play shots. "The last few games, I think we have been doing a really good job defensively,'' Rinne said. "For me, it is way easier for me to control my rebounds, and if I leave a rebound laying around, they are always there for me to save my butt.'' Rinne is 8-3-1 with 2.20 GAA and three shutouts lifetime against the Wild. Assuming he starts Saturday, this will be his first look at Minnesota this season, as Chris Mason made his only start in the previous meeting. Last month's win was Nashville's fourth straight versus Minnesota. The Predators have won seven of eight in the series, allowing one goal or fewer in six of those games.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Chris Paul ‘despises’ Doc Rivers, had issues with treatment of son Austin

Report: Jimmy Butler recruiting Kyle Lowry to the Timberwolves

WATCH: Tim Tebow didn't waste any time homering after promotion

Nolan Arenado throws out runner from seated position

NFL fans in Florida seem to like Tom Brady more than any of their three teams’ players

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mayweather-McGregor fight is reportedly seeking a $10 million title sponsor

Terry Francona wearing heart monitor in case of another 'episode'

Albert Almora denies flipping off President Donald Trump during White House visit

Blazers post hilarious tweets after acquiring cash from Rockets

Chip Kelly defends Kaepernick: He was not a distraction

Steve Smith faces suspension should he unretire

The 'You get a steal! You get a steal! Everybody gets a steal!' quiz

Rewriting the Hall of Fame rubric for today's pitchers

Top NBA free agents available

Box Score 6/28: New York loses its zen

Although you have seen this start before, this season is no sequel for the Dodgers

The 'Power hitters are coming for that number one spot' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Ricky Davis takes unnecessary shots at Al Harrington

Who won Wimbledon the year you were born?

Box Score 6/27: Monday is for all sorts of ballers

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'You get a steal! You get a steal! Everybody gets a steal!' quiz

Rewriting the Hall of Fame rubric for today's pitchers

2017 is not another disappointing sequel for the Dodgers

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Ricky Davis takes unnecessary shots at Al Harrington

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'Power hitters are coming for that number one spot' quiz

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker