Minnesota Wild (45-27-8) at Nashville Predators (47-23-10)
|Date & Time||Thursday April 9, 2015, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Nashville Predators / Minnesota Wild --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Minnesota Wild locked up their playoff berth on Tuesday night and unsurprisingly they did it behind the play of Devan Dubnyk.
Dubnyk has been the key since he was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes and his play in net was able to solidify the position for a Wild club that was playing well but was constantly being let down by their goaltending.
Minnesota’s victory snapped a three game losing streak that has seen them struggle to score goals, which was the case again for the Wild against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wild managed just 15 shots on goal through two periods of play and were held scoreless, but Dubnyk did his part and allowed his club to find a way. Mikeal Granlund scored his eighth goal of the season midway through the third period to put the Wild on the board, and Jason Zucker’s 19th of the year proved to be the game winner less than four minutes later.
It wasn’t the prettiest effort for the Wild, and this is a club that isn’t going to wow you when you watch them play. With Dubnyk in goal they’ve found a way to be competitive almost every single night, and they have the confidence that they can compete and play with anyone in the league. Thursday night the Wild get a chance to take on a Nashville Predators club that they might be seeing in the opening round next week.
The Predators were the most dominant team in the National Hockey League over the first half of the season, but things haven’t come as easily for them since then. Pekka Rinne was lights out early in the year but he’s struggled lately and the Predators have had a hard time keeping the puck out of their net.
Nashville has now lost four games in a row after Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and they’ve watched the St. Louis Blues overtake them for the Central Division lead.
Ryan Ellis’ ninth goal of the season came on the power play 1:20 into the third period to tie the game for the Predators at 2-2. Colorado would score less than six minutes later to regain the lead for good. Calle Jarnkrok added his seventh goal of the season in the first period for the Predators.
Nashville dominated for long stretches in this hockey game and out shot the Avalanche 42-23 on the night. Rinne was unable to make the big save and that has been a huge problem for this team lately. If Rinne is unable to regain his form the Predators are looking at a quick exit in the post season.
Both of these teams have playoff berths locked up but they want to start playing better hockey heading into the playoffs. Nashville really just looks like a shell of what they were early in the year and Minnesota has a chance to take advantage of them here.