NHL: Wild’s fourth line key in big win over Predators
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After a baffling loss to the woeful Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, the Minnesota Wild rebounded in a big way against the NHL's top team.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After a baffling loss to the woeful Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, the Minnesota Wild rebounded in a big way against the NHL’s top team.
Getting two goals from its fourth line and another solid game from goalie Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota became only the fifth visitor to win in sold-out Bridgestone Arena, handing the Nashville Predators a 4-2 loss on Thursday night.
Making his 19th straight start since being traded from Arizona on Jan. 14, Dubnyk (23-8-3) stopped 26 shots as the Wild (32-22-7) won for the 12th time in 15 games. Minnesota jumped over Los Angeles and Calgary for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Predators (41-14-7) fell to 26-4-1 at home, getting outshot 30-28 and looking out of sorts most of the night against a hot opponent. Their Central Division lead over St. Louis fell to seven points as the Blues posted a 2-1 shootout win in Winnipeg.
Goalie Pekka Rinne (35-9-3) made 26 saves for Nashville, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.
The Predators pulled Rinne for the last 2 1/2 minutes in an attempt to at least force overtime and pick up a point, but right winger Nino Niederreiter scored an empty-net goal at 18:21 to seal the verdict.
Minnesota broke the scoring seal at 17:35 of the first period when center Erik Haula ripped a slapper from just inside the blue line past Rinne for his sixth goal of the season.
Nashville equalized just 16 seconds into the second period as center Mike Fisher’s one-timer appeared to strike the crossbar, plunk off Dubnyk and trickle into the net. It was Fisher’s 14th goal of the season.
The Wild regained the lead at 7:12. Off Haula’s clean faceoff win, center Kyle Brodziak beat Rinne with a one-timer for his eighth goal of the season.
That lead lasted all of 79 seconds, thanks to Predators center Craig Smith, who converted a breakaway off Fisher’s pass for his 20th goal of the season. But Minnesota took its third lead at 8:48 when Niederreiter scored his 20th of the season off a great feed from center Charlie Coyle.
Notes: Minnesota LW Sean Bergenheim, who was acquired from Florida on Tuesday along with a 2016 seventh-round draft pick in exchange for a third-rounder in 2016, made his debut for the Wild and skated on the first line with C Mikko Koivu and LW Thomas Vanek. ... Nashville D Ryan Ellis (lower-body injury) returned after a 21-game absence. Ellis was injured Jan. 8 against Dallas in the third period. ... Minnesota leads the NHL with 23 first-period goals in the last 18 games, going 13-3-2 during that stretch. ... Predators D Anton Volchenkov (lower-body injury) remains on IR.
Minnesota 4, Nashville 2
Minnesota 1 2 1- 4
Nashville 0 2 0- 2
First Period-1, Minnesota, Haula 6 (Fontaine, Brodziak) 17:35.
Second Period-2, Nashville, Fisher 14 (Cullen, Ekholm) 0:16. 3, Minnesota, Brodziak 8 (Haula) 7:12. 4, Nashville, Smith 20 (Fisher, Cullen) 8:31. 5, Minnesota, Niederreiter 20 (Coyle, Schroeder) 9:48.
Third Period-6, Minnesota, Niederreiter 21 (unassisted) 18:21 (en).
Shots on Goal-Minnesota 10-10-10-30. Nashville 9-8-12-29.
Power-play opportunities-Minnesota 0 of 2. Nashville 0 of 2.
Goalies-Minnesota Dubnyk 23-8-3 (29 shots-27 saves). Nashville Rinne 35-9-3 (29-26).
A-17,113 (17,113). T-2:32.