Posted April 02, 2012 on
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The Nashville Predators' spot in the postseason is secure, but their recent spotty play means they won't want to take their final regular-season games lightly.
The Minnesota Wild are out of contention, but relishing their role as a spoiler.
Possibly needing to win its final three games for a chance at home-ice advantage in the first round, Nashville on Tuesday night will host a Minnesota club in the midst of its longest winning streak in nearly four months.
The Predators (45-26-8) have dropped four of seven and six of nine, including a 5-4 home defeat to Chicago on Saturday. With 98 points, they are tied with the Blackhawks for fifth in the Western Conference with a game in hand. Detroit - which like Nashville has three games remaining - is in fourth place with 99 points.
That fourth spot carries with it home ice in the first round. The Predators are 24-10-5 at Bridgestone Arena, compared with a 21-16-3 road mark. The Red Wings and Blackhawks may want the No. 4 seed even worse, as both of those clubs have losing records away from home.
"If you win tonight, you have a little bit of breathing room," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said after Saturday's loss. "They forced us to win all three of our games now ... So it's still in our control in terms of the 4 or 5 seed. What's not in our control now is home-ice advantage."
The Blackhawks had a chance to pass the Predators in the standings Sunday, but the Wild (34-35-10) did Trotz's club a minor favor by winning 5-4 in a shootout at Chicago.
Devin Setoguchi scored in the first period and again in the tiebreaker to help Minnesota win its third straight - its longest streak since a season-best seven-game run Nov. 28-Dec. 10.
"These games are important for a lot of teams," Setoguchi said. "These games are about pride and building toward next season. People might think, 'They're out of it,' but it's big for our club to finish strong and do things the right way instead of taking a vacation here."
Setoguchi, who also had two assists against the Blackhawks, missed the Wild's other visit to Nashville this season - a 2-1 shootout loss Dec. 28 - due to a lower-body injury that sidelined him for 12 games.
"That might be (Setoguchi's) best game that he's played in a Minnesota Wild jersey, to be honest with you, right from the start," coach Mike Yeo said Sunday. "I think that he's really elevated his game, and it's obviously been a trying season for him, but it's really encouraging to see him going the way he's going right now."
Nashville rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie the Blackhawks on Saturday, but lost after Brent Seabrook beat Pekka Rinne at 8:19 of the third period. A workhorse whose 71 starts are tied with Anaheim's Jonas Hiller for the league lead, Rinne could be showing signs of late-season wear. He has allowed three goals or more in six of his last 10 starts, after doing so six times in his previous 26 outings.
Rinne is 8-3-1 with a 2.20 lifetime goals-against average versus Minnesota.
The Predators have won four consecutive home meetings with the Wild since a 5-3 defeat Dec. 5, 2009.
BEST OF MAXIM
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The playoffs are almost here and Smashville can feel it. It's time for winning playoff hockey to be played.
On Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators played well enough defensively to escape from the Minnesota Wild with a 2-1 victory, which means two much-needed points in the standings. Nashville is currently playing a game of back-and-forth with Detroit and Chicago for the...
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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...
By Seth Lake
While the Nashville Predators were up in Detroit on Friday night securing the 500th win in franchise history against the Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks were sitting in Nashville awaiting their arrival looking to avenge a 6-1 defeat last Sunday night on national television, clinch their spot in the playoffs, and keep their hopes of the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference...
The Nashville Predators take on the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. This game is important, only for the Predators. The Nashville Predators' record this season is 45-26-8 with 98 points and ranked 5th in the Western Conference. The Minnesota Wild's record this season is 34-35-10 with 78 points and ranked 12th in the Western Conference. Puck drops at 7:08...
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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mike Strasinger
With 4th place on the line over the course of the current week, Nashville knew they couldn’t afford a loss if they wanted to secure home-ice advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs.
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Devin Setoguchi and Erik Christensen scored in a shootout to help the Minnesota Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Sunday night for their third straight victory.
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