Predators-Wild Preview

The Associated Press

The Nashville Predators felt happy to pick up a point their last time out.

They might feel good about just getting a goal against the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild have held the Predators scoreless for eight straight periods as they seek a fifth straight home win Thursday night.

Nashville (25-23-9) has not played since Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss at St. Louis as it missed a chance at a three-game win streak. Mike Fisher and Roman Josi had third-period goals against a Blues team which is third in the Western Conference.

The Predators are 6-2-2 in their last 10. They have two games left before the Olympic break and are four points out of a playoff spot.

"We're fighting for our lives here," Fisher told the league's official website. "Two (points) would have been awesome but against a good team like this, sometimes that's the way it goes and we'll take one."

Nashville is eight points behind Minnesota (30-21-7), which is playing its final game before the Olympics.

"It's important," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. "You want to finish strong, you want to go into the break feeling good, feeling good about the team, feeling good about yourself. And I think hopefully we recognize that and come out and play hard Thursday."

The Predators did all their scoring in the first period of a 3-2 victory over the Wild on Oct. 8. Minnesota responded by taking the next two matchups, as Josh Harding made 16 saves in a 2-0 victory Oct. 22 and Darcy Kuemper stopped 23 shots in a 4-0 win Jan. 12.

Last month's victory was the first career shutout for Kuemper, who was solid Tuesday with 34 saves in a 2-1 home win over Tampa Bay.

That contest marked the return of Jared Spurgeon, who had two assists in his first action after missing 14 games with a foot injury.

"I think there's lots of adrenaline that helps you," Spurgeon said. "At the start I was a little nervous being off for a month, but they threw me right out there for the opening shift and that helped me really calm down and get my feet wet for that first one."

His return could be critical since fellow defenseman Marco Scandella exited Tuesday, favoring his right leg as he skated off the ice with assistance. Coach Mike Yeo labeled Scandella as "doubtful" for Thursday.

This matchup features defensemen among the leaders in ice time. Suter, who spent his first seven seasons with Nashville before signing with the Wild in 2012, leads the NHL with an average of 29:44. Shea Weber averages 26:42 and Josi 26:11 for the Predators.

Minnesota has scored on the power play in four straight games for the first time since March. Nashville's penalty kill is one of the league's worst at 79.8 percent, and has yielded six goals in opponents' last 15 chances.

David Legwand has a point in four straight games for the Predators but has none in the season series against the Wild. Weber, second on the team with 38 points behind Legwand, also has no points versus Minnesota.

Zach Parise did not record a point against the Lightning after amassing eight over his previous three games.

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