The Minnesota Wild are off to yet another fast start at home.
They’ll try to maintain the league’s lone perfect home record Thursday night against the Nashville Predators, who are the NHL’s final team to play its first divisional game.
The Wild (7-2-2) are 5-0-0 at home for the second straight season, inching closer to their franchise-best start of 8-0-0 at home in 2006-07. While they’ve allowed only 11 goals in those games, they haven’t been nearly as good on the road, dropping four straight, including a 3-2 overtime setback in St. Louis on Halloween.
Minnesota squandered all five of its power plays Saturday after scoring four times on 16 chances with the man advantage over the previous five contests. Zach Parise hasn’t scored on the power play after doing so in each of the team’s first three games, though he has four goals overall and three assists in his last five home games against Nashville.
Coach Mike Yeo lamented his team’s early misfortunes in the new 3-on-3 overtime format, as the Wild also dropped their only other overtime game 2-1 at Los Angeles on Oct. 16.
"I’ve looked at our overtime pretty closely, and we’ve out-chanced the opposition in both games that we’ve played," Yeo told the Wild’s official website. "We actually had better chances in both games that we played. But it’s just that one breakdown that quickly goes back against us."
Minnesota has won eight of the last 12 meetings, though it has lost three straight at home while surrendering 16 goals.
The Predators (7-2-2), are 3-2-1 on the road, but have dropped three of four overall. They lost 4-2 Sunday at Anaheim, allowing four goals for the second straight game, this time to a Ducks team which entered last in the NHL in scoring with 1.3 goals per game. Nashville had been giving up 2.8 goals per game prior to the last two contests.
Amazingly, this marks the Predators’ first foray into divisional competition. They ranked third among Central teams with a 15-9-5 record in 2014-15, while Minnesota is 3-1-1 against divisional opponents this season.
Pekka Rinne is likely to start in goal after not facing the Ducks. He owns a 1.97 goals-against average, though he has a .893 save percentage in his last five starts against the Wild.
Devan Dubnyk, who has given up at least three goals in six of his nine starts, is expected to get the nod at the other end.
Minnesota will remain without third-line right winger Justin Fontaine, announcing Tuesday a sprained MCL in his left knee suffered Friday against Chicago will sideline him for four to six weeks. He has one goal and three assists in eight games. Rookie center Tyler Graovac will also be out about six weeks after undergoing surgery for a core muscle repair.
Defenseman Ryan Suter has no goals and eight assists in 13 games against his former club since joining the Wild prior to the 2012-13 season.
James Neal leads Nashville with seven goals but he hasn’t scored in his last four meetings with Minnesota. Shea Weber has scored in back-to-back games but has one goal in his last 23 games against the Wild.