Wild upend Nashville in overtime
ST. PAUL — Right winger Nino Niederreiter scored on a slap shot at 2:16 of overtime, lifting the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin and left winger Zach Parise also scored for Minnesota (31-21-7) as the Wild extended their home winning streak to five in their final game before the Olympic break.
Center Craig Smith scored twice and goalie Carter Hutton made 33 saves for the Predators (25-23-10), who were shut out in their two previous games against Minnesota.
Brodin opened the scoring with his first goal of 2014 and eighth of the season, ripping a low shot past Hutton from the left circle.
Nashville answered less than two minutes later when Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped a long-range shot by Smith and thought the puck was covered. In reality, the puck was loose in the crease, where Smith was able to chase it down and bat it into the net.
Parise gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead later in the first, scoring on a power play after a quick pass from left winger Dany Heatley in traffic. In the second period, Smith re-tied the game for Nashville, re-directing a shot by defenseman Victor Bartley past Kuemper.
Kuemper, making his 12th consecutive start — a franchise record for a rookie — stopped 16 shots while improving to 8-3-2.
It was a tough day, health-wise, for the Predators before they took the ice.
At the team’s morning skate, TV play-by-play voice Pete Weber was rushed to a St. Paul hospital after suffering a heart attack.
At roughly the same time, a second crew of paramedics came to the arena to attend to Predators general manager David Poile. Watching practice from the tunnel near the Predators bench, Poile was struck in the face by an errant puck, suffering a fractured eye socket.
Both Weber and Poile spent Thursday night in the hospital. Poile is also the general manager for Team USA at the Winter Olympics, but it was unknown whether the injury would prevent him from traveling to Russia.
Notes: Wild G Niklas Backstrom, dealing with abdominal soreness, was unable to dress for practice on Thursday, prompting Minnesota to recall G Johan Gustafsson from Iowa of the AHL. ... Olympians from both teams were honored on the ice before the game. In Sochi, Team Canada will include Predators D Shea Weber; Team Switzerland will include Predators C Simon Moser, Predators D Roman Josi and Wild RW Nino Niederreiter; Team Finland will include Wild C Mikael Granlund and Wild C Mikko Koivu; and Team USA will include Wild D Ryan Suter and Wild LW Zach Parise. ... Predators C Matt Cullen played Thursday after missing the previous four games because of an upper-body injury. ... The Wild wore their white road sweaters at home for just the second time this season. With Minnesota experiencing a colder-than-normal winter, it was dubbed “Polar Vortex Night” at the arena. All ticket-buyers received a white Wild t-shirt. ... The Predators have one more game before the Olympic break, hosting the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Minnesota’s next game is Feb. 27 against the Oilers in Edmonton.