Nashville's Granlund gets first of two cracks vs. former team in Minnesota
Mikael Granlund completes a whirlwind seven-day stretch on Sunday night when the Nashville Predators cap a three-game road trip with the opener of a home-and-home series against his former team, the Minnesota Wild.
The ink was barely dry on the trade that sent Granlund from Minnesota to Music City when news broke that his fiancee, Emmi Kainulainen, went into labor with the couple's first child. Granlund then celebrated his 27th birthday on Tuesday when his baby was born.
"It was weird timing, but that's the way life goes sometimes," Granlund told The Tennessean. "It's been a pretty crazy last couple of days. Obviously, a lot of things have gone on, but everybody's healthy and happy back home, and everything went well."
Granlund offered no hard feelings toward his former team for the timing of the trade that shuffled fellow forward Kevin Fiala to the Wild.
After sitting out Nashville's 2-0 setback at St. Louis on Tuesday, Granlund found the scoresheet three nights later in his debut with his new club by setting up defenseman Mattias Ekholm's third-period goal in a 5-3 loss to Winnipeg.
The Predators saw an early two-goal advantage go by the boards, leading to their third loss in four outings to fall three points behind the first-place Jets in the Central Division.
"It's the little things that are costing us right now, and the upside of this is we can clean those things up," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "We're going to have to play our best game of the season (on Sunday), and why not start there? Then we go home and get some rest and we continue on."
While Subban set up two goals in Nashville's 4-2 win over Minnesota on Oct. 15, Zach Parise also had a pair of assists to pace the Wild.
Parise's availability for the rematch against the Predators is in question, however, after he blocked a shot with his right foot in Tuesday's 3-2 victory in Winnipeg.
While the 34-year-old sat out Saturday's 4-2 win over Calgary, Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau kept the door open for his star player to return to the ice against Nashville as the team bids for its sixth straight victory.
"Probably a better chance there," Boudreau said of Parise, who leads the team in goals (24) and points (54).
Jason Zucker set up Eric Staal's goal early in the first period versus the Flames, extending both forwards' season-high point streaks. Zucker has scored two goals and set up two others during his four-game run while Staal has two tallies and five assists in a five-game stretch.
Staal has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 24 meetings with Nashville while defenseman Ryan Suter has 17 (two goals, 15 assists) in 28 encounters against the team with which he spent the first seven seasons of his career.
Staal and company will likely take aim at Pekka Rinne, who owns just an 8-8-3 mark on the road this season. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner turned aside 29 shots in the first match with the Wild to improve to 17-12-4 in his career against Minnesota.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 3, 2019