On Thursday, the Nashville Predators struggled against the Minnesota Wild, suffering their fourth regulation loss of the season in a 4-2 decision and bringing their record to 41-14-7.

All night Minnesota seemed ahead of the Preds, and the Preds were consistently playing catchup for thr entire evening. At the end of the 1st period, the Wild were leading 1-0 after a Erik Haula goal at 17:35.

Early in the 2nd, the Preds came roaring back after Mike Fisher got his 14th of the season, just 16 seconds into the period. The Wild responded with a goal from Kyle Brodziak at 07:12. At 08:31, Craig Smith scored an outstanding breakaway goal to tie the game back at 2-2.

The rest of the game belonged to the Wild. Nino Niederreiter scored two goals (2nd-09:48, 3rd-EN-18:21). The Preds were not able to get back as Devan Dubnyk was the difference in net for the Wild.

The Predators looks to respond against one of their most heated rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, this afternoon to end the current home stand with a 2:00 pm CST start.

The Red Wings (34-15-11) last faced off on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks. Early on, the Sharks were able to get a 1-0 lead at 07:06 of the 1st when Matt Irwin scored his 6th of the year.

The 2nd period was all about PowerPlay Goals for both teams. At 03:53, Detroit tied the game with a PPG from Teemu Pulkkinen (2). Soon after, San Jose joined the PPG party at 06:51 when Patrick Marleau (13) scored with the man advantage.

The 3rd period was all Detroit, as they scored two goals for the victory. (13:32-Pavel Datsyuk, 18:45-Luke Glendening)

With the team leaders in statistics, your usual leaders are at the top with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik  Zetterberg. In just 49 games, Datsyuk has 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points. Zetterberg has 49 points this season, 15 goals and 34 assists.

Keys to Watch

Inconsistent Play

Nashville has been showing signs of extremely inconsistent play over the past week, especially since the loss to the Islanders last Thursday 5-2. The Preds have played well at home this season. I mean, 26-4-1 is not too shabby, but there can’t be inconsistency. Inconsistency leads to early exits in the playoffs. Look for the Preds to become a more consistent group, and they can start against their formal Central Division rival.

Old with the New

No person can deny how good the Red Wings have been with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Let’s call them the “Old Guard”. The Red Wings have a “New Guard” coming to the forefront with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. Tatar is 3rd on the team with 45 points and Nyquist is 4th with 44 points. The Preds defense will have a tough time with whichever “Guard” they are dealing with this afternoon and must play better than of recent games.

Things that make you go….Hmmmm

Towards the end of Thursday’s game, I noticed there was not a lot of Cody Franson and Ryan Ellis on the ice. During the game, Franson logged a total of 12:50 and Ellis had 11:29 TOI. Ellis just returned from 21 games off and his game shape could be lacking. I get that, but Franson?! He was brought in for veteran depth, a big shot, and log considerable minutes. Are there trust/liability issues? Is he not catching on to the system? This is definitely something to keep an eye on for Saturday’s game, as well as in the future.

Today’s 2:00 pm CST puck drop at Bridgestone Arena will have a raucous crowd. We all know there will be lots of “red” in attendance. THEREFORE, please make it out to the arena, if you can! For those that can’t, FOX Sports Tennessee will have all of your TV coverage (pregame show begins at 1:30 p.m.) and 102.5 The Game will have all of the play-by-play action!