7 p.m. vs. Nashville • Xcel Energy Center • NBCSN, 100.3-FM
Back-to-back offers big opportunity
Preview: The Wild (19-15-3) begins a back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Predators (22-9-5). Nashville, last year’s Stanley Cup runner-up, sits atop the Central Division. The Wild won the teams’ only meeting this season 6-4 at home Nov. 16. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said if his team can win the first game of the back-to-back, there won’t be as much pressure when they head to Nashville. The Wild is 1-4 in the first game and 2-3 in the second in back-to-back series this season.
Quotable: “It’s a real challenge, quite frankly. We’re playing arguably the best team in the West, and who knows? Maybe the best team in the NHL right now. And it’s a team in our division, which makes it dually important. And we beat them the last time, so they’ll be hungry again. I think that they understand that this is a chance for them to really put distance between us and them, and it’s a chance for us to really close the gap. So it should be an interesting game.” — Boudreau on Nashville
Players to watch: LW Filip Forsberg (15 goals-19 assists-34 points) leads a balanced Nashville scoring attack, and P.K. Subban (7-18-25) is seventh among defensemen in league scoring. G Pekka Rinne (2.44 goals-against average, .924 save percentage) has shut out the Wild four times in 30 career games. … C Eric Staal (15-17-32) leads the Wild in scoring, and D Jonas Brodin is its top plus-minus player at +12. Devan Dubnyk might play in goal for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury Dec. 12; he is 11-6-2 with a 2.27 GAA in his career vs. the Predators. If Alex Stalock makes his eighth consecutive start, he is 0-2 with a 3.54 GAA against Nashville.
Numbers: In 2017, the Wild has allowed 100 non-shootout goals at home, which ties for fifth fewest in the league.
Injuries: Wild F Zach Parise (back) and F Nino Niederreiter (foot/ankle) are out for the Wild. D Ryan Ellis (knee) is out for Nashville.