NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 9th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (11-9-2) at Nashville Predators (10-9-5), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Ryan Suter figures to get a cold reception Saturday night in Nashville as he returns to play in the Music City for the first time since becoming a member of the Minnesota Wild.
Suter was drafted by Nashville with the seventh overall pick of the 2003 draft and the defenseman spent seven seasons with the Predators before signing a 13- year, $98 million contract with the Wild on July 4. Suter was highly sought after as a free agent and turned down offers from Nashville and Detroit to play in Minnesota, which also signed forward Zach Parise to an identical 13- year, $98 million deal on the same day last summer.
The 28-year-old Suter compiled 38 goals, 238 points and 396 penalty minutes in 542 regular-season tilts with the Predators, but he doesn't expect to receive a hero's welcome on Saturday.
"Whatever happens, happens. They pay the money, they can do whatever they want," Suter said of the fans. "Obviously I have a lot of respect for them. The Predators are a great organization and they wouldn't be that without the fans, so it's exciting to be back here. I'm just looking forward to the game."
The Wild and Predators met twice earlier this season in Minnesota and split those meetings. Nashville had won four straight in the series before the Wild posted a 2-1 overtime victory in the last encounter on Feb. 9
Saturday's tilt in Nashville is the Wild's only scheduled trip to Bridgestone Arena this season.
Minnesota enters Saturday's showdown having lost two of three and the Wild were handed a 5-3 loss Tuesday in Chicago. Bryan Bickell scored twice in a four-goal first period to lead the way for the Blackhawks.
Suter scored his first goal of the season in Tuesday's loss, but he is leading all Minnesota defenseman with 15 points in 22 games this season.
"Once they get their momentum going, they're tough to slow down," Suter said of the Blackhawks.
Devin Setoguchi and Kyle Brodziak also scored for the Wild, who lost for the third time in their last six and are currently one point behind Nashville and Phoenix for ninth place in the Western Conference standings.
The Wild hope to receive a boost Saturday from the return of forward Cal Clutterbuck, who was activated off injured reserve on Friday. Clutterbuck, a physical forward with two goals and two assists this season, had missed the past six games with a leg injury suffered in a collision with Edmonton's Taylor Hall on Feb. 21. Hall was suspended two games for the hit.
Minnesota is just 3-7-1 as the road team this season and will begin a three- game homestand Sunday against Vancouver.
The Predators, meanwhile, were able to halt a three-game skid on Friday night and broke out of an offensive slump in the process.
Nashville had scored a total of three goals during a recent 0-3-0 stretch, but the Preds slammed the visiting Edmonton Oilers by a 6-0 score on Friday. Colin Wilson totaled a career-high four points on two goals and two assists, with Pekka Rinne adding 24 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
David Legwand, Patric Hornqvist, Rich Clune and Zach Boychuk added scores for the Predators, who scored two goals in each period.
"It started with the first shift," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "We set the tone."
Suter's former defensive partner, Shea Weber, had three assists on Friday. Weber is third on Nashville with 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) this season.
Nashville did lose Hornqvist to an upper-body injury in the victory and he is questionable for Saturday.
The Preds have won their last two on home ice and are 6-2-3 as the host this season. Next up for the club is a five-game road trip, which begins Tuesday at Dallas.
03/09 10:59:04 ET