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Predators-Wild Preview

Recent home games against the Nashville Predators have brought little luck to the Minnesota Wild.

Forget about the four straight losses; the most recent cost the Wild their best player, and his absence has been felt since.

With Zach Parise still on the mend from injury and the Wild limping off a four-game road trip, they will try to end their struggles against the Predators at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.

The Wild seemed fine directly after Parise sprained his MCL following a hit from behind by James Neal early in a 3-2 home loss to Nashville on Nov. 5, Minnesota's only defeat at home this season. Minnesota (10-5-3) won its next three games, including the opener of a four-game trip, and Parise's injury was deemed less serious than originally feared.

The wheels fell off quickly, though, as the Wild lost at Dallas, Pittsburgh and Boston to close the trip.

Still tied with Thomas Vanek for the team lead in goals with seven, Parise won't return against the Predators but may be able to play on Wednesday versus Vancouver - the second of a four-game homestand.

The Wild are also dealing with an illness that has spread in the locker room, while forward Jason Zucker was slashed on the leg toward the end of a 4-2 loss against the Bruins on Thursday.

Coach Mike Yeo said Zucker and ill defenseman Jonas Brodin should play against the Predators.

"We just have to focus on the guys that are here really, and trying to get back the guys that are sick to make sure they are back as quick as possible," forward Nino Niederreiter said.

The Wild will try to pick up the pieces against Nashville. The good news is Minnesota has won three of four against the Predators, but those victories came away from home.

The Wild, who are 7-1-0 at Xcel Energy Center, have surrendered four goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season and have allowed power-play tallies in five straight. A quick start would help after Minnesota conceded the first goal in each of its last four games.

"The longer road trips wear on you, the intensity of the games, but we've been trailing in every one of those games," Yeo said. "When you're trailing, you're pressing, it seems you grind a lot more... we have to dig deep and give everything we've got to be able to put it into that game (Saturday)."

In order to set their longest current winning streak in an opposing arena, the Predators (11-4-3) will have to rebound from Friday's 4-0 loss at Columbus that opened a five-game road trip.

Nashville outshout the Blue Jackets 39-18, but Pekka Rinne allowed three goals on 17 shots. That was as many goals as Rinne had surrendered while facing 83 shots in his previous three starts.

Columbus beat Rinne on its first two shots 1:41 apart and scored three times on its first nine.

''We made a couple of big mistakes,'' coach Peter Laviolette said. ''We were in the positions that we needed to be in and then we didn't follow through on assignments. It ended up costing us a couple goals.''

Rinne has allowed just three goals on 66 shots in his last two starts in Minnesota.

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