(Sports Network) – The Wild weren’t able to carry recent road success into their own arena last time out. They may find getting their offense re- established away from Minnesota this evening a tough task.
That’s because tonight’s opponent, the Nashville Predators, has been playing great two-way hockey as of late, an effort the Preds will look to extend in tonight’s meeting at Bridgestone Arena.
The streaky Predators posted a 2-1 victory in San Jose on Saturday, giving them a pair of five-game winning streaks sandwiched around five straight losses. They have outscored their opponents, 19-6, over their current five- game run and can post six consecutive victories for the first time since March 12-21.
Pekka Rinne made 42 saves in Saturday’s win and Sergei Kostitsyn had the go- ahead goal. The forward has scored in five straight games and has added four assists to a six-game point streak.
“We’re winning with a combination of good goaltending and team defense,” said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz, whose club is still nine points back of Detroit for first place in the Central Division.
David Legwand also scored for the Sharks and though Patric Hornqvist had his four-game goal streak halted, he did have an assist to give him five tallies and eight points over a five-game point streak.
Nashville’s current win streak, as well as Hornqvist’s recently-ended run and Kostitsyn’s active goal-scoring tear, all began with a 4-1 victory in Minnesota on Dec. 31.
That victory gave the Preds a split of their two games played versus the Wild this year — both in Minnesota — and they have won three of the last five played at home in this series.
Rinne is 4-2-1 with a 2.54 goals-against average versus the Wild.
After a perfect three-game road trip stretched Minnesota’s win streak to a season-best four games, the club returned home on Sunday and was slammed by Dallas, 4-0.
“They are a physical team, they got some goals and we had some chances in the offensive zone but couldn’t put it in the net,” said Wild defenseman Nick Schultz. “Some games you put in the effort and it just doesn’t happen. We have to put this one behind us.”
Jose Theodore allowed four goals on 28 shots for the Wild, who are 8-3-1 in their past 12 games. With Niklas Backstrom out with a hip injury, Theodore has started the last five games and had given up just three goals prior to Sunday’s setback.
Theodore, who was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday, is 5-3-0 with a 2.46 in his career when facing Nashville.
Minnesota, which is tied for ninth in the West, is in the midst of playing eight of 11 on the road and is 5-0-1 in its last six as the guest.