Well-rested Wild host Predators
A few days off for the Minnesota Wild could be a bad thing for the Nashville Predators tonight at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild haven't played since a 3-2 shootout win versus St. Louis on Saturday in the second installment of a six-game homestand and rode Mikko Koivu to their fourth straight win and ninth in 11 tries. Koivu posted a shorthanded goal in the second period, lit the lamp in the third and also scored in the shootout for Minnesota, which has won five straight at home and improved to 7-2-1 as the host this season.
"I did ok," Koivu said. "It's not about one guy or one line and I think we realized that. I think we did a lot of good things. We just have to believe that it will pay off and we'll get some wins."
Koivu had one goal through 19 games this season prior to Saturday. Matt Cullen recorded the decisive goal in the shootout and Jaroslav Halak turned aside 30 of the 32 shots that went his way. The Wild will also host Edmonton, Calgary and Tampa Bay on the residency.
The Wild are three points ahead of the Oilers in the Northwest Division and sit even with Chicago and Pittsburgh for the NHL lead with 27 points.
On the injury front for Minnesota, defenseman Marco Scandella missed his fourth consecutive game because of a concussion and is expected to be activated from injured reserve in time for tonight's game.
Nashville just went 2-1-2 on a recent five-game homestand and will begin a five-game road swing tonight in St. Paul.
The Predators suffered their second straight loss with Tuesday's 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, as Jordin Tootoo posted a goal and an assist while Jonathon Blum added a goal. Pekka Rinne started the game in net, but was pulled after the first period as he gave up three goals on 13 shots. Anders Lindback finished the game in net and allowed three goals on 19 shots.
"We all need to do better, these early games are important down the stretch," said Nashville forward Mike Fisher. "Especially home games, this was a frustrating, embarrassing one for us."
Nashville is three points behind Chicago in the Central Division and owns a 6-3-1 mark as the guest. It will also visit Detroit, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver on the upcoming trek.
Wednesday's game between the Predators and Wild is the first of four meetings this season. Nashville won three of the four matchups last season and split both bouts at Xcel Energy Center.