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4-3-3

Predators-Wild Preview

AP - Sports

The Minnesota Wild's loss to the Nashville Predators early this month added to their sour start, but also served as a precursor to a winning streak.

Now the Wild find themselves in another slump going into the second meeting of the Central Division foes Tuesday night in Minnesota.

The Wild (3-3-3) fell 3-2 at Nashville on Oct. 8, dropping them to 0-1-2. They appeared to get on track immediately following the defeat with a three-game winning streak, but they've scored one goal each time in three losses since.

A 2-1 shootout defeat at Florida on Saturday marked the seventh time Minnesota has been held to two or fewer goals. Jonas Brodin scored for the Wild, who had 31 shots.

Minnesota is one of the best teams in the league on the power play despite its offensive struggles, converting 26.3 percent, but it squandered two 5-on-3 chances against the Panthers.

Dany Heatley recorded his second assist of the year Saturday, but the two-time 50-goal scorer has yet to find the back of the net. Heatley had 24 points in his first 18 career games against Nashville before going without one in each of the last three.

"I'm disappointed for our guys. They're playing their tails off," coach Mike Yeo said. "We're playing great defensively, generating chances, but we're not winning games. It's in their heads a little bit. You can see it on the 5-on-3, you can see it in the shootout."

In contrast, the Predators (5-3-1) come in confident, having gone 4-0-1 in their last five. Nashville beat Winnipeg 3-1 on the road Sunday as backup Carter Hutton made 38 saves.

Matt Cullen, who totaled 101 points over the last three seasons for Minnesota before signing with Nashville in July, scored his second goal in three games. That was among three for the Predators in the second period.

"We're playing pretty well right now," Cullen said. "We're getting some good goaltending and playing some good hockey. We're wearing teams down and have four lines that can skate."

Nashville has killed off 16 straight short-handed situations over the last five games after allowing six goals on 17 power-play opportunities in their first four contests.

Minnesota hasn't been nearly as effective in that area, giving up at least one power-play goal in all but one game.

Each team scored twice on four power-play chances in the first meeting. Top goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 32 shots for Nashville, 8-1-2 in the past 11 matchups.

Mikko Koivu has 15 points in his last 15 games against the Predators, while Ryan Suter had four assists in as many meetings with his former club last season.

It's uncertain if Keith Ballard will play after missing three straight games due to an upper-body injury. He leads Wild defensemen with a plus-3 rating.

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