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Wild head back out on the road as they face division rival Nashville

Can the Wild finally put together a full 60 minutes of hockey?

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NHL: Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

MINNESOTA WILD AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS
7PM Central, BRIDGESTONE ARENA, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
TV: Fox Sports-North, Fox Sports-Wisconsin
Radio: KFAN 100.3 and affiliates
Streaming: Fox Sports Go app, NHL.Tv (Free Game)

The Wild are coming off an overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. A game in which they surrendered a franchise record 57 shots against and a game quite frankly, they had no business making to overtime. Tonight, the Wild look to turn the page in Nashville and play a full 60 minutes of good hockey for the first time this season.

We know one things for sure, Devan Dubnyk has been a rock between the pipes for the Minnesota Wild through the first four games. But tonight, the Wild will most likely have to do without their top net minder as backup Alex Stalock will likely get his first start of the season.

Tonight, is the first game of a back-to-back, with Dubnyk likely getting the nod tomorrow night against one of his previous teams, the Phoenix Arizona Coyotes, while Alex Stalock will most likely be between the pipes tonight. Last season Alex Stalock was a decent backup goaltender, getting the job done when called upon. In 28 games played last season he went 10-10-4, with a 2.85 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.

Last season the Wild went 3-1-1 against the Predators but lost both games that were on the road at Bridgestone Arena. The Wild have had success in Nashville, recording at least 1 point in 10 of the last 15 games.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

We all know how good the Predators are. Two years removed from a Stanley Cup Final run and fresh off a regular season good enough to capture the Presidents’ Trophy. The postseason did not go according to plan for the Predators as they were bounced in the second round at the hands of Central Division foe, Winnipeg Jets.

Last year doesn’t sound like cause for celebration, yet the organization decided to raise not one, not two, but THREE banners for their REGULAR season accomplishments from the year prior.

On this ice, this season the Predators have picked up right where they left off last season. They are heading into tonight winning the last two consecutive games and four of their first 5 games. The Predators have beaten the New York Rangers (3-2), Winnipeg Jets (3-0), and New York Islanders twice (4-3, 5-2) with one loss coming against the Calgary Flames (0-3).

The Predators have gotten it done with solid defense and a collaborative effort upfront.

For the past several years the Predators have had one of the best defensive units in the NHL. It is pretty hard to find a better top 4. Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm are the engine behind the train the just keeps on coming. Captain Roman Josi comes into tonight with 1 goal and 1 assist. P.K. Subban has 1 goal and 2 assists. Ryan Ellis matches Subban’s points but all of Ellis’s points are assists. Surprisingly, Mattias Ekholm leads defenseman and is tied for 2nd in points on the team with 1 goal and three assists.

As for the forwards, The Predators are led by their top line of FIlip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Victor Arvidsson, whom are the top three point getters for the Predators 5 games into the season. Shutting down the top line will be an important job for the Wild if they want to leave Nashville with a win.

And please, for the love of God can we not go to overtime again tonight! We do not need to see another Ryan Johansen walk off.

STORYLINES

Through the first 3 games of the season the Wild had not taken advantage on the power play. After going 0 for 7 in the first 3 games, the Wild picked up two goals on the man advantage in last Saturday’s loss to Carolina. Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker picked up the tallies for the Wild on the power play while Jared Spurgeon scored just seconds after a penalty expired, almost making it 3 goals for the Wild’s power play. So, the question going into tonight is, will the power play success continue tonight? If the Wild continue to shoot the puck more and look for other options besides a Matt Dumba one-timer as they did Saturday night, the Wild’s power play success should continue.

The Wild are dead last in the league in shots against. So, can the Wild outshoot the Predators? First things first, they must play a full 60 minutes to accomplish this, especially since they are on the road. The Wild have struggled in the first period in all four of their opening games. They have surrendered a combined 54 shots against from their opponents, while only putting 31 on net themselves. Tonight, getting started from puck drop is a key to tonight’s game if Wild want any business outshooting Nashville.

How well will Alex Stalock play? It will likely be Alex Stalock’s first start of the season, per Michael Russo of the Athletic. Last season, Stalock started a total of 12 games against playoff caliber teams. Posting a record 5-5-2 record with a goals against average of 2.67 and a save percentage of .912. Those are not terribly awful numbers, but one would think he will likely have to play better than a .912 save percentage for the Wild to come out on top tonight against Nashville.

Pregame: Who will have the better suit, P.K. Subban or Matt Dumba? This one is more of a fun one, as both players are known for their unique fashion choices off the ice. The safe choice would be to go with P.K. Subban. He’s at home, so he has his whole wardrobe to choose from, rather than Dumba who likely brought only one suit along with him for the one game road trip. But who’s to say Dumba won’t bring his A-game on and off the ice tonight?

INJURIES

For the Wild, Joel Eriksson Ek is still week-to-week with an upper body injury.

No injuries for the Predators, but Auston Watson is currently serving his-now 18 game suspension for a misdemeanor domestic assault charge.

The Gamethread will post at 6:30PM Central. Below are the projected lineups, thanks to DailyFaceoff.com.