The Predators hope to extend a six-game road win streak with their first victory in Minnesota in over five years, while the Wild look to remain perfect on home ice this season.
Nashville (8-3-1) has won eight of nine overall following a three-game losing streak to open the season and is tied with Detroit for the Central Division lead. The Predators’ six road wins are the most in the Western Conference and second only to Buffalo’s seven.
The Wild (10-2-0) are the only NHL team yet to lose at home, opening this season with a franchise-record eight-game win streak. They’ve won 11 in a row at the Xcel Energy Center dating to last season and have reached 20 points in 12 games, something they didn’t accomplish until the 20th contest in 2005-06.
Paul Kariya set up three goals as the Predators handed Edmonton its first home loss Wednesday, 5-3. The victory was Nashville’s fourth in a row overall, and during the six-game road win streak, the Predators have four one-goal victories.
“When we started off we were doing little things wrong and we started correcting them bit by bit each game,” forward Jason Arnott said. “We were able to grind out a few games at the beginning and then start to turn things around. It starts with our goaltenders—they have been playing extremely well. When you have great goaltending it filters its way out.”
Backup Chris Mason made 22 saves on Wednesday, meaning Tomas Vokoun likely will get the start on Saturday. Since allowing 13 goals in losing his first two starts this season, Vokoun is 6-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and a shutout.
A 6-5 defeat at Minnesota on Oct. 7 was the Predators’ third straight in St. Paul. Nashville has six losses and two ties on the road against the Wild since a 6-4 win on Oct. 31, 2001.
Minnesota rebounded from just its second loss of the season by rallying for a 5-2 victory over Vancouver on Thursday. Brian Rolston scored the second of his team’s five unanswered goals on a penalty shot and Niklas Backstrom stopped all 19 shots in relief of Manny Fernandez, who became ill after the first period.
“The way the team responded was unbelievable,” said Backstrom, a 28-year-old rookie from Finland who earned his second NHL victory.
Backstrom became the first goalie in the modern era, which began in 1943, to win twice before starting a game. Backstrom relieved Fernandez after a three-goal first period against Nashville on Oct. 7 and Minnesota rallied to win.
A stingy defense has been the biggest key behind the Wild’s perfect home start. They’ve allowed more than two goals only once in eight games, limiting opponents to five goals in their last four contests at the Xcel Energy Center.
Star right wing Marian Gaborik has missed the last five games with a groin injury, but Minnesota is 4-1-0 in that span with 16 goals scored. Gaborik is not expected to play Saturday.