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Preview: Wild, Predators meet for final showdown this season

It’s the final road game of the season, baby!

Minnesota Wild v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild look to extend their nine game point streak tonight against division rivals, the Nashville Predators. However, Minnesota hasn’t played its best games against Nashville this season: the Wild have three losses in as many tries against the Preds this season and have been outscored 17-6.

They seem to lose their identity a bit when they play against the Predators – winning tonight would hopefully instill some much needed confidence the team needs against a specific other division rival: the St Louis Blues. Minnesota will be playing against the Blues in the playoffs and are currently fighting for home ice.

On the bright side, Minnesota is more rested tonight as Nashville played Tampa Bay last night and lost 6-2, they even pulled their goalie Juuse Saros. The Wild will likely play against David Rittich tonight. He’s 5-3-2 with a 3.33 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage.

The Wild are still playing with a patchwork team – Jordan Greenway, Matt Dumba, and Mats Zuccarello will sit tonight’s game out for injuries, and Marcus Foligno is out another game after testing positive for COVID-19. Fingers crossed they’re just playing things a little safe with Zuccarello with playoffs around the corner.

The Wild called up Joseph Cramarossa to take along with them to maybe fill in that extra forward spot. He might not play, as Evason has made overtures that the Wild might play with seven defensemen instead; making all of Jordie Benn, Alex Goligoski, and Jon Merrill dress. I’m as in the dark as you are about what that means about what the lineup will look like tonight.

The Wild will likely continue its goalie rotation, so expect Cam Talbot in net.

See you at puck drop, at 7:08 p.m.!

Burning Questions

Can the Wild outplay outwit outdefend Nashville’s Norris-contending captain Roman Josi?

Y’all Josi is so good. And so good against the Wild. He has 11 points, 4 goals and 7 assists, against the Wild this season and two of his four four-point nights this season have been against Minnesota. Last night he scored his 90th point to become the ninth defenseman, and the first since 1994, to do so in a season in NHL history. Whether Minnesota wins tonight will have a lot to do with whether they can solve a problem like Roman Josi.

Does Kevin Fiala stay scorching hot?

While we’re worrying about Roman Josi, Nashville will have its own set of problems to solve and his name is Kevin Fiala. The Wild might be on a nine game point streak but in several of those games we only barely crawled to a point in large part because of Fiala’s utter dominance. Fiala set a franchise record Friday with a 5 assist game. He’s scored nine goals and 12 assists over the past nine games. He’s up to a career-high 32 goals and 82 points this season (and we all remember how the start of his season looked.) Fiala is like big time hot right now and the Preds should be sweating.