Nashville (15-10-1) at Minnesota (10-12-3)

  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Wed Dec 2, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Nashville Predators have cooled off with losses in two of their last three games, and a road matchup with the last-place Minnesota Wild could provide a stiff test.

The Predators try to rebound from one of their most lopsided defeats of the season when they face the surging Wild on Wednesday night.

Nashville (10-12-3) opened the season 3-6-1 before an 11-2-0 stretch, which started with a 4-3 win at Minnesota on Oct. 28. The surge moved the Predators into the thick of the Central Division race with Chicago, Detroit and Columbus.

Nashville, however, is coming off a 5-0 loss to Calgary on Monday. The Predators scored one goal in going 1-2 in its last three games over four days.

“Calgary didn’t allow us to get our energy going, plain and simple,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We shouldn’t be a tired team. We’ve got to come out of the gates quicker. If the players say they’re tired, I’d say that’s an excuse.”

Trotz could go with Dan Ellis(notes) in net after Pekka Rinne(notes) allowed four goals on 29 shots against the Flames. Rinne has lost consecutive starts after winning seven in a row with a 1.80 goals-against average.

Ellis made 23 saves in a 4-1 win over Florida on Saturday after serving as Rinne’s backup over the previous eight games, due in part to a stiff back.

Ellis struggled in the last meeting with the Wild, however, giving up three goals on 10 shots before being pulled 2:18 into the second period. Rinne stopped all 12 shots the rest of the way to earn the win.

Rinne has gone 2-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA and a shutout in three games against Minnesota.

The Wild (10-12-3) are looking for their first three-game winning streak of the season after sweeping a home-and-home set from Colorado last weekend.

Mikko Koivu(notes) and Andrew Ebbett(notes) scored shootout goals as Minnesota beat the Avalanche 3-2 on the road Saturday, completing a comeback from a two-goal first-period deficit.

“We spent a majority of the time in their zone, created a lot of chances and drew some penalties,” coach Todd Richards said. “You spend time in the offensive zone and you get opportunities and draw penalties.”

Minnesota has gone 3-0-1 after a 6-11-2 stretch that landed it at the bottom of the Western Conference. The team has been solid at Xcel Energy Center, going 7-3-1 overall and 2-0-1 in its last three games there.

Koivu has been a key factor in the Wild’s home success, with four goals and 10 assists in St. Paul compared to two and eight on the road. The center was held without a point at Denver after getting three assists in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Avalanche.

He recorded an assist against the Predators on Oct. 28, giving him eight to go along with two goals in eight home matchups with Nashville.

Minnesota is also getting healthier, Right wing Antti Miettinen(notes) has returned after missing the last three games with what was diagnosed as swine flu. Richards said he believes Miettinen will play against Nashville.

The Wild are also expected to get right wing Martin Havlat(notes) (hamstring) and defenseman Marek Zidlicky(notes) (upper body) back Wednesday.

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Wednesday, Dec 2