|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ET21:00 BRT, October 3, 2019
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee Attendance: 17,455
Predators look for more scoring punch vs. Wild
Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators
- The Predators swept all four games from the Wild last season and have won five straight in the series -- their longest winning streak ever against Minnesota.
- Nashville won its second straight Central Division crown last season despite having a league-worst 12.9 power play percentage, which topped only the Preds' 12.3 mark in their expansion 1998-99 season as the worst in franchise history.
- The Wild missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12 despite picking up 44 points on the road --third most in franchise history. Minnesota's 39 points at home were the second fewest in franchise history, ahead of only the strike-shortened 2012-13 season (30 points).
- Ryan Johansen led Nashville with 64 points and a career-best 50 assists last season -- the most assists in a single season by a Predator since Paul Kariya had 52 in 2006-07.
- Eric Staal, who was second on the Wild last season with 22 goals and 52 assists, has 20 points in 21 games against the Preds since 2011-12 season. That 0.95 points per game is tied with Ottawa for his fourth highest average against any opponent he has played at least 10 times in that time range.
- Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk won 31 games last season while Nashville's Pekka Rinne won 30. They've each won at least 30 games in each of the last five seasons, tied with Washington's Braden Holtby for the longest active streak of consecutive 30-win seasons.
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The Nashville Predators begin their quest for a third consecutive Central Division title on Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Wild in the season opener for both teams.
Nashville finished with 100 points in the 2018-19 season to edge the Winnipeg Jets and the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, both of whom had 99 points.
The Predators, who advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, were bounced after six games in the first round by the Dallas Stars this past spring.
"We were a good team last year," defenseman Ryan Ellis told The Tennessean. "We've been a good team for the last couple of years. We expect nothing less than getting better every year. We haven't fulfilled our ultimate goal, but overall it just seems like we came to play each year."
The Predators made a splash in the offseason, trading former Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban to New Jersey to cut salary costs before signing free-agent center Matt Duchene to a seven-year, $56 million contract. The addition of Duchene is expected to add some punch to a power play that finished last in the NHL in 2018-19.
Duchene, who was the third overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft by Colorado, has 232 goals and 315 assists in 727 regular-season games. The 28-year-old is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 31 goals and totaled 70 points.
Nashville opens the season by playing four straight and 10 of its first 14 games at Bridgestone Arena, where it compiled a 25-14-2 mark last season. The Predators capped a 5-1-0 preseason with a 2-1 overtime victory over Carolina on Friday with center Ryan Johansen netting the winning goal.
"For sure, we should be feeling good about ourselves," Johansen told NHL.com. "Obviously it's preseason, and Game 1 starts Thursday, but we should be proud of the way we worked, the way we prepared all summer and be feeling pretty good about ourselves."
Minnesota posted a 37-36-9 record last season, but its 83 points put it at the bottom of the ultra-competitive Central Division. The Wild finished seven points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot to snap a six-year playoff run.
The Wild fired general manager Paul Fenton on July 30 after a 14-month stint and replaced him with Bill Guerin, who won two Stanley Cups as a player and two more in the front office with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bruce Boudreau returns for his fourth season as head coach.
Minnesota, which opens the season with three straight road contests, went 2-1-3 during a preseason that was highlighted by the return of captain Mikko Koivu (right ACL) and defenseman Matt Dumba (ruptured right pectoralis muscle) from season-ending surgeries.
Dumba was playing at an All-Star level with 12 goals and 10 assists in 32 games prior to his injury, while Koivu scored eight goals and set up 21 others in 48 games before going down in February.
"It just adds a different dynamic to our roster with those two guys healthy and playing," forward Zach Parise told minnesotahockeymag.com.
The Wild will start the season without defenseman Greg Pateryn, who is expected to miss six weeks after bilateral core muscle repair surgery.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 2, 2019