The Minnesota Wild shelled out mega dollars to sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this offseason in the hopes of snapping a four-season playoff drought.
The Wild have so far looked more than capable of pulling that off and they try to wrap a three-game homestand perfect on Tuesday night in a matchup with Suter's former team, the Nashville Predators.
Minnesota made a big splash in free agency when it signed Parise and Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4 and have gotten off their best start since winning the first four games of the 2008-09 campaign.
The Wild began the season with a victory over Colorado on Saturday before notching a 1-0 triumph versus the Dallas Stars the following night. Parise had two assists in his Wild debut before logging the only goal of Sunday's game in the first period.
"It's been great. We're 2-0, so that's always a really good start," said Parise. "I think there's definitely still room for some improvement. We can get better in different areas, but bottom line is we won our first two and that's what we wanted to do."
Perhaps even a bigger story than Parise's first goal with the Wild was Josh Harding's 24-save shutout. The netminder was making his first appearance since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during the offseason and posted his seventh career shutout.
"It feels good right now. It was a long time coming. It's been a tough couple months here and this made it all worth it," Harding admitted. "I can't thank the team enough for having my back. They made some great plays and made my job a lot easier."
The Wild, who will play their first road game on Friday in Detroit, are still waiting for Suter to notch his first point of the season. It could happen on Tuesday against the club that selected him seventh overall in the 2003 draft.
Suter, who turned 28 on Monday, teamed with current Predators captain Shea Weber to form one of the top defensive pairings in the league before taking his services to Minnesota. Suter had 38 goals and 200 assists in 542 games over seven seasons with Nashville and went to his first All-Star Game last season.
The defenseman won't be making a return trip to Nashville, though, as the Predators are set to embark on a franchise record-tying seven-game swing on Tuesday. They are still looking for their first victory, having dropped their first two at home in shootouts.
Two days after a defeat to Columbus, Nashville dropped a 4-3 decision to St. Louis on Monday night. Patric Hornqvist had a goal and two assists in regulation, while Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher also scored.
However, Craig Smith and Martin Erat both came up empty on their shootout chances, while Pekka Rinne did not stop either skater he faced after making 36 saves through overtime.
"We haven't been beaten in a game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We've been beaten in a little bit of a skills competition."
Trotz's team won't play its next home game until Feb. 7 as it matches the seven-game swing the club endured from Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2002. The Predators only won once on that trek.
Nashville could also be in for another tight game as all four contests between these two clubs last season were decided by a single goal. The Predators did win three of those games and have taken seven of the last nine encounters overall.