Predators vs. Wild Preview
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (AP) - The Nashville Predators are in the midst of a scoring drought and have struggled to find their offensive rhythm. In order to avoid a season-high losing streak, they'll have to take advantage of the injury-riddled Minnesota Wild.
Nashville hopes to avoid a six-game skid Friday when it travels to Minnesota, where the Predators have lost three of their last four.
The Predators (17-13-6) have dropped five straight after a five-game winning streak. They've scored one goal or less in four of those losses and have been outscored 18-5 during that stretch.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Wild -125 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Predators. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 93% of more than 5,076 bets for this game have been placed on the Predators +115.
Nashville fell 4-2 against Dallas on Tuesday despite outshooting the Stars 46-25. Both goals came in a span of 1:32 between the end of the second period and beginning of the third, when Colin Wilson recorded his first career multi-goal game.
"I thought Colin was skating, and that was number one," coach Barry Trotz said. "He was taking the puck hard to the net and he was getting his nose a little bit dirty. That is how he has to play."
The Predators played without Jordin Tootoo, who has 10 points and a team-high 47 penalty minutes, after he entered into in-patient care through the league's substance abuse program Monday.
Pekka Rinne is 0-3-0 with a 2.37 goals-against average in three straight starts since returning from injury. It's unclear if he will get the start Friday.
Nashville may hope to pick up the offense with the help of Steve Sullivan, who has 21 points in 14 games against the Wild since joining the Predators.
Minnesota is 4-1-1 in its last six, but keeping up that pace may be difficult given the recent string of injuries. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who has 20 points, hurt his shoulder in a 5-3 victory against San Jose on Wednesday.
Kyle Brodziak scored twice and Brett Burns netted the winner as the Wild (17-14-5) scored three unanswered third-period goals.
"He's going to be out for some time," coach Todd Richards told the team's official website regarding Zidlicky. "He won't be back in the next two weeks, that's for sure."
Possibly making matters worse, goaltender Niklas Backstrom appeared to hurt his knee on the final drill of practice Thursday. Richards committed to Backstrom following Wednesday's victory, though his status may now be in question. Forward Cal Clutterbuck also may sit out with a "nagging injury," according to Richards.
The Wild would welcome Backstrom playing, as he's 7-2-0 with a 3.03 goals-against average versus Nashville. However, backup Jose Theodore earned a 5-2 victory over the Predators on Nov. 26, and he's 3-0-0 with a 1.92 GAA in his last three starts against them.
Martin Havlat, who has only one goal in his last 10 games, had two goals and an assist in that victory and leads Minnesota with 33 points.