Ryan Suter remembers his days in Nashville fondly, from being drafted with the seventh overall pick in 2003 at Bridgestone Arena to playing seven seasons and making five playoff appearances with the Predators.
He's fully aware, though, fans won't be relishing the good times he spent in Music City as he takes the ice wearing a Minnesota Wild sweater Saturday night.
"Whatever happens, happens," Suter said. "(The fans) pay their money, they can do whatever they want. I have a lot of respect for them."
They began souring on the defenseman when he decided to leave Nashville and join fellow free agent Zach Parise in Minnesota with identical 13-year, $98 million contracts in July. According to Predators general manager David Poile, Suter had given assurances he'd return to the team, causing a bit of a rift between the two.
They have since patched things up, but Suter likely will still feel the fans' displeasure over his departure when he returns for the first time as the opponent.
"I'm excited, a little nervous coming back into the building, but definitely excited to be here," Suter said. "I didn't think I'd be that nervous until I showed up at the rink (for practice).
"It was weird walking into the hotel across the street and just knowing I'm on the other side now. Being drafted in this building and playing here for seven years and making a lot of relationships, it's definitely a little different."
The Wild (11-9-2) and Predators (10-9-5) already have met twice this season, though both contests were in Minnesota. Nashville won the first meeting 3-1 on Jan. 22 before Devin Setoguchi scored in overtime to give the Wild a 2-1 win Feb. 9.
Suter said having already played against his former teammates makes his first trip back to Nashville a bit easier.
"That helped a ton," Suter said. "That first game was tough to play because I had close relationships with some of those guys. But it definitely helps."
Suter played a role in helping the Predators defeat Minnesota in its last five trips to Nashville, with the Wild being outscored 16-3 in those contests.
Minnesota hopes to end that streak while bouncing back from Tuesday's 5-3 loss at Chicago, as forward Cal Clutterbuck returns from a six-game absence due to a leg injury.
"We pride ourselves on being a physical team and he helps us get to that part of the game," coach Mike Yeo said.
Suter scored his first goal Tuesday since joining the Wild, who had won three of their previous four and aren't letting the latest defeat get them down.
"We've had two really good practices, and that's a credit to the leadership that we have that we can have a game like we had in Chicago and have a really good effort (in practice)," Yeo said.
Nashville, meanwhile, ended a three-game losing streak with Friday's 6-0 win over Edmonton. Colin Wilson had two goals and two assists while captain Shea Weber - Suter's former defensive partner - added three assists for the Predators, who had scored one goal or none in five losses over their previous six games.
Nashville's 51 non-shootout goals are more than only Minnesota's 50 and San Jose's 47.
``We won a game, you know,' coach Barry Trotz said. ``That's great. That's what we need. Can we follow it up? That's what's going to be the test. We're playing a very good Minnesota team that's got their game in order. We're going to be tested.'
Pekka Rinne earned the shutout Friday, though Chris Mason, who stopped 59 of 62 shots in the first two meetings combined, could get the start in the second of a back-to-back.
Niklas Backstrom, 3-1-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average in his career at Bridgestone Arena, will be in net for the Wild.
The Associated Press News Service
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