(SportsNetwork.com) - The Nashville Predators aim to secure a seventh straight victory at home on Thursday night as they take on the playoff-hopeful Minnesota Wild.
Nashville holds the best home record in the NHL at 26-3-1, having won 15 of its past 16 games as the hosting club. The Predators improved on that mark Tuesday, opening up a three-game homestand with a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Craig Smith scored the go-ahead goal and Pekka Rinne made 18 saves as Nashville improved to 8-1-1 over its past 10 games and leads the NHL with 89 points. Calle Jarnkrok, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Eric Nystrom all lit the lamp as well.
"I think it's been the strongest game that I can recall," Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette said. "We seemed to have good jump."
The Predators have won their past three meetings with the Wild -- all in Minnesota -- and have taken six of the past eight encounters in Nashville.
Rinne figures to start tonight and is a solid 11-4-2 lifetime versus the Wild with a 2.12 goals against average, .923 save percentage and three shutouts in 18 games (16 starts).
While Nashville is on top of the NHL standings, the Wild are just on the outside of the playoff picture, sitting one point behind the Calgary Flames for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota lost ground on Tuesday thanks to a 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers got both of their goals in the first period off Devan Dubnyk and the Wild were unable to get the equalizer despite 15 third-period shots. Dubnyk made 17 saves in losing to the Oilers for the first time in six meetings this season.
"We lost the game in large part because of our start," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
Thomas Vanek scored in the first period for the Wild, who had a six-game home winning streak snapped and lost in regulation for only the second time in their past 14 games (11-2-1).
Looking to bolster their playoff chances, the Wild acquired forward Sean Bergenheim from the Florida Panthers on Wednesday not long before the start of the game. Minnesota sent a 2016 third-round pick to the Panthers and also received back a seventh-round selection in that draft along with Bergenheim, who could debut tonight.
Bergenheim tallied eight goals and 10 assists over 39 games this season with the Panthers.
"The emphasis for us was to find a proven guy, with some playoff experience, a guy that's willing to compete, go to the net and pursue pucks. And Sean brings all those attributes," said Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher on the Wild's official website.
Dubnyk, meanwhile, figures to face a former club for the second game in a row. He made two appearances with the Predators last season after being acquired from the Oilers.
He is 4-3-2 in his career versus Nashville with a 2.34 GAA and .925 save percentage in 10 games (9 starts).