The Wild didn’t have much time to relish in its 2-0 return to action following the Christmas break.

After dispatching the Predators 4-2 Friday and shrugging off the Stars by the same score Wednesday, the Wild hustled to Nashville to complete a back-to-back Saturday against the Predators and close out 2017 with yet another game against a division rival.

“One more to go [Saturday], and let’s try to get it done,” winger Mikael Granlund said.

This three-game run against the Central isn’t the Wild’s last concentrated stretch against its rivals; it plays consecutive games against the Jets and Blackhawks later in January, and there’s also another three-gamer in March – among a few other sets.

But racking up points coming out of the break is huge; not only does it help stabilize the Wild, who stumbled into the hiatus by dropping four of its previous five games, but winning in regulation like the Wild has done the past two times ensures the team picks up points while its opposition doesn’t – the only way for it to truly climb the standings.

“I think individually we realize how big this weekend is, and it's really going to count if we follow it up [Saturday],” center Eric Staal said. “We were ready to play [Friday]. We were hungry for the win, and the biggest key now is to go in their building and do the same thing. It's going to be a tough test; it's a tough building to play in. But we should be up for it.”

Projected lineup:

Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund

Tyler Ennis-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle

Daniel Winnik-Joel Eriksson Ek-Chris Stewart

Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Zack Mitchell

Ryan Suter- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Gustav Olofsson-Nate Prosser

Alex Stalock

Key numbers:

5: Points for winger Mikael Granlund in two games against the Predators this season.

2-3: The Wild’s record in the second game of a back-to-back.

10: Points in the last 10 games for center Eric Staal.

8: Goals for Predators defenseman P.K. Subban this year, tied for second among NHL defensemen.

5: Players on the Predators with at least 10 goals.

About the Predators:

After Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Wild, the Predators sit second in the Central Division with 49 points – only one shy of the division-leading Jets. The loss continued a tough stretch for Nashville recently, as the team is 1-3-1 in its past five games. Winger Filip Forsberg leads the Predators offensively with 15 goals and 34 points. But Nashville’s depth is one of its strengths. The Predators are only one of four NHL teams with at least five players who have scored 10 or more goals.

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