Wild vs. Predators preview: Central rivals set for final clash


2:30 p.m. Sunday vs. Nashville, Xcel Energy Center

TV; radio: TNT; 100.3 FM

Stats and analytics: Tap here.

Pregame reading: Wild reflect on season so far after trade deadline

For the fans: The Wild are hosting a Diversified Hockey Celebration that will recognize Blind Hockey, Deaf/Hard of Hearing Hockey, Special Hockey, Sled Hockey, and Warrior Hockey.

Sarah McLellan's preview:

Opening bell: Not much has changed since the last time these Central Division foes faced off. The Wild (30-27-7) still have their work cut out for them to get closer to a Western Conference wild-card seed, although they did bank three out of a possible four points on their last road trip; they won at Arizona Thursday before losing a hard-fought game in overtime to Colorado the next night. Meanwhile, the Predators (37-25-3) have continued to roll since they routed the Wild 6-1 on Feb. 29. Nashville's win streak ended at eight, but the Predators are on an 11-game point streak. That's the third-longest run in franchise history.

Watch him: Predators D Roman Josi was a force in that blowout win for Nashville late last month. He had a goal and assisted on two others, bringing his season point total vs. the Wild to five. But Josi's success predates their most recent matchups: in his career, the defenseman has 38 points in 43 games against the Wild.

Injuries: Wild LW Marcus Johansson (lower body), D Jake Middleton (upper body) and D Jared Spurgeon (hip/back).

Forecast: Nashville was in action on Saturday, picking up another victory in Columbus, while the Wild were idle after their two-game trip. But the Predators finishing off a back-to-back probably won't be much of a factor considering how locked in they've been lately. What is more likely to give the Wild an edge is if they brought the intensity they showed vs. the Avalanche home with them. The Wild kept pace with Colorado after getting scored on the game's first shot, and they even had chances late in regulation to secure the lead before the Avalanche capitalized on a power play in overtime. If that version of the Wild can stick around, they should be a handful.

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