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Old 03-17-2010, 11:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Wild @ Preds.

Another in a line of games we really need. We need to pick up 2pts to keep on moving up in the play off race. But this home game will be a tough one. The wild are a good team and awalys come to play vs the Preds.

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With a big majority of their remaining schedule being at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators are eager to make it an intimidating place for opponents to visit.

The last time they hosted the Minnesota Wild, it was anything but.

The Predators try to win their fourth straight Thursday when they take on the Wild in the teams' final regular-season meeting.

Nashville (39-26-5) is in seventh place in the Western Conference, and where it finishes in the standings will likely depend on its play at home over the next few weeks.

The Predators, who are 19-12-2 at home, play eight of their final 12 games in Nashville and only three of those matchups are against teams currently in playoff position.

"We want to establish our home building as a tough place to play and it's always been like that and we want to keep it that way," said goaltender Pekka Rinne, 5-2-1 in his last eight home starts.

Though Minnesota is nine points back of Nashville and six behind eighth-place Detroit, it defeated the Predators 5-3 on Dec. 5 at Bridgestone Arena in the most recent meeting - a game the Wild led 4-1 after two periods. The five goals are tied for the second-most Nashville has allowed at home this season and equaled the most Minnesota has scored on the road.

Each team has won three straight overall.

The last time the Predators won four in a row - Dec. 14-19 - they outscored opponents 23-13, but each of their last three victories have been decided by one goal.

The Predators recorded a 4-3 shootout win over Philadelphia on Tuesday after blowing a 3-1 first-period lead. Martin Erat had the only goal of the shootout after scoring once in regulation.

"When they tied it up, we did not sit back on our heels," center Jason Arnott said. "You can say it was an ugly win, but we will take the two points and that is all that matters."

Arnott has seven goals and two assists in his last six games against Minnesota, including three goals and an assist in two matchups this season.

Rinne had a season-high 42 saves Tuesday and he's started all three games of the Predators' winning streak, allowing five goals on 96 shots. However, he's given up 11 goals in his last two starts against the Wild, including a 5-4 overtime loss Dec. 2.

Minnesota (34-29-6) has won three of the last four meetings overall, scoring 21 goals.

The Wild, who have earned at least one point in seven of their last nine games, are looking to win four straight for the first time since Jan. 6-13 after beating Edmonton 4-2 on Tuesday.

"It's been like that for a month or so. We know we can't lose a game," said Josh Harding, who had 34 saves. "We have to keep this little ball rolling. If we don't, come playoff time we'll be on the outside looking in."

Harding, who has started the last three games in place of the injured Niklas Backstrom (groin), was in net for Minnesota's win in Nashville in December, recording 26 saves. If Backstrom is able to play, he'll look to improve on a 7-2-0 lifetime record against the Wild.
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