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  • 12/30 PREGAME: Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators

    Heather Rule

    The Minnesota Wild have a pair of home victories against the Nashville Predators this season, with each game filled with goals. Now the teams head to Nashville for the second night of this home-and-home back-to-back.


    Mikael Granlund scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 Wild victory on Friday night. Granlund led the team last season against the Predators with five points and three goals. He already has five points against them this season, in just two of the five meetings for 2017-18.


    The Wild (20-15-3) have a pair of victories after the much-needed holiday break. They’re 2-4-0 on the first night of back-to-back games and 2-3-0 on the second night. This marks the sixth back-to-back this season of 15 for the Wild, though this is the only one against the same opponent. In Nashville, the Wild are 7-4-2 in their last 13 games at Bridgestone Arena.


    Devan Dubnyk made his return to the net and stopped a season-high 41 shots in the victory.


    With back-to-back games, it’s expected that Alex Stalock will get the nod this time. He filled in during Dubnyk’s six-game absence with a lower-body injury. Stalock is 0-2-0 with a 3.54 GAA and .903 save percentage in two career starts versus Nashville.


    The Predators (22-10-5) will likely send out their backup goaltender as well, Juuse Saros, who is (3-3-2) this season with a .918 save percentage and 2.64 GAA. It would be the first minutes Saros has seen in his career against the Wild.


    With his fifth two-point night of the season -- a career-high -- against the Predators, Matt Dumba sits at 99 points in his career and one away from the even-number milestone. Dumba has seven points in his last seven games. For the season, he has seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points.


    Ryan Suter tallied an assist against his former team Friday night, bringing his team-leading total to 19 for the season. He also has at least a point in eight of his last 10 games. And yes, he leads the NHL with his 27.12 time-on-ice per game this season. Suter was traded away from Nashville a few years ago, and fans there still give him a rowdy welcome whenever he touches the puck.


    Predators defenseman P.K. Subban scored Friday, bringing his season total to eight and 27 points -- tied for second on the team. Filip Forsberg leads the team with 15 goals and 34 points. Kyle Turris also scored in the first night of this series; he has 27 points this season.


    On special teams, each squad scored a power-play goal in the first game of the series. The Predators have the top home power play -- second in the NHL -- going 22 for 66 (33.3 percent) with the man advantage in Nashville. The Wild have the fifth-ranked penalty kill, though it’s just 78.7 percent on the road (ranked 20th) versus their second ranking on home ice.


    It’s the final game for both teams in the 2017 calendar year. The Wild are 46-31-7 in 2017 spanning two seasons. This also marks the 69th overall meeting between the Wild and Predators; the Wild hold a 32-28-8 record against them.


    The Predators haven’t won at home since a 5-3 victory over Boston on Dec. 4, going 0-2-1 since then.


    Injury list:

    Nino Niederreiter (lower body), 3 games

    Zach Parise (microdiscectomy surgery), 38 games

    Total man games lost: 91



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