Originally written April 02, 2012 on Inside Smashville:
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The Minnesota Wild have won three straight games against teams looking to better their seeding in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs. The Wild has played the role of spoiler in the last three games. Predators forward Patric Hornqvist says as long as Nashville sticks to playing its own game, the Predators should come away with two points. “We just have to out-work them. We need a good start to the game and play a really detailed game. We have to stay focused on our game plan and play for a full 60 minutes,” he said. On Thursday, the Wild beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Mikko Koivu, his 12th of the season. Florida is battling with Washington for top spot in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division. Saturday night it took a shootout, but the Wild handed Los Angeles their first loss in three contests with a 4-3 win. The Kings currently hold on to the Pacific Division lead but are tied in points with Phoenix with 91 points on the season. San Jose is one point behind with 90 points on the season. Even Dallas remains in the hunt for the Pacific Division title, currently sitting in 9th spot in the Western Conference standings with 89 points. On Sunday, Minnesota won in another shootout, this time 5-4 over Nashville’s Central Division rivals the Chicago Blackhawks. The loss meant that Nashville would end the night in fifth spot. Had Chicago won the game, the Predators would have dropped to sixth spot in the Western Conference standings. Now, the Wild will look to make it four wins in a row against another team looking to improve its seeding in the playoffs when they visit Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday. The Predators are still hoping for a fourth place seeding, and home ice in the Western Conference quarterfinals. Alternate captain Mike Fisher says the key to playing well against teams playing the role of spoiler is to prepare like any other game. “We have to worry about our own game, and play well. We need to make sure we are ready. Teams like the Wild are playing spoiler and want to finish the season strong. We can’t take them lightly. We need to prepare for a battle.” he said. Goaltender Pekka Rinne agrees. “It is just like any other game,” he said. “We have to prepare well. It is a big game for us if we want to battle for home ice advantage. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem in terms of preparation.” Nashville has three games remaining in the regular season. After Tuesday night’s contest, the Predators host the Dallas Stars in Nashville’s final home contest of the regular season. The Predators close out the regular season on Saturday night in Colorado. The Stanley Cup playoffs begin a week from Wednesday on April 11th.
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