7 p.m. VS. Nashville • Xcel Energy Center • FSN, 100.3-FM
Preview: The Predators (11-3-3) were two points ahead of the fourth-place Wild (10-5-3) in the Central entering Friday night’s game at Columbus. Nashville beat the Wild 3-2 on Nov. 5 and Wild LW Zach Parise was injured on a James Neal check and hasn’t played since.
Players to watch: C Mikko Koivu leads the Wild in scoring (four goals, 13 assists, 17 points) and will play in his 700th NHL game. He has a point in the past five games and in 15 of 18. Defenseman Ryan Suter, a former Predators standout, has 10 points in the past 10 games. He leads NHL players in time on ice (27:43 per game). Winger Jason Zucker has 6-6-12 in the past 13 games. Devan Dubnyk leads NHL goalies with 10 wins. … Neal (9-6-15) led the Predators in scoring entering Friday’s game. D Shea Weber had five of his six goals on power plays; he had five PPGs all of last season. Pekka Rinne had a 0.97 goals-against average and a .964 save percentage in three previous starts before Friday.
Numbers: The Wild has consecutive regulation losses for the first time since Jan. 13. Wild defensemen have 29 percent of the team’s points, third-highest in the NHL. Nashville has the highest scoring D-corps (17 goals, 35 assists).
Injuries: For the Wild, Parise (knee), W Justin Fontaine (knee), C Tyler Graovac (hernia surgery) and D Marco Scandella (lower body) are out. Nashville F Eric Nystrom (upper body) and Paul Gaustad (lower body) are out.