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Nashville Predators 3, Minnesota Wild 2 (SO): Back in the W Column

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A game of familiar faces ended with smiles on the right ones.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators welcomed back Craig Smith into the lineup as they travelled to St. Paul for a visit with Kevin Fiala and the Minnesota Wild. Mikael Granlund made his first return to the Xcel Energy Center since being traded to Nashville, and Juuse Saros got the start in goal for Nashville against the red-hot home team as Nashville won in a shootout, 3-2.

The first period was a big one for newly acquired forward Wayne Simmonds. With roughly 15 minutes left in the opening period, Simmonds used his net-front presence to grab the puck and get it to an open Nick Bonino on the other side of the net. Bonino put the puck in the net, and Simmonds got his first point as a Predator. The Wild would get a power play opportunity later in the first, but the Predators defended it well and the period ended 1-0.

During the second period, Juuse Saros was under a whole lot of pressure. He had to consistently block high danger shots, and for most of the period he stood tall. However, he eventually cracked and gave up a breakaway goal to Eric Fehr to tie the game with less than five minutes in the period. Then, with less than a minute left, he gave up a second goal to Jason Zucker, giving the Wild the lead after two periods.

The score stayed the same for most of the third period, until Nashville was awarded a power play with just a few minutes left. The Predators did not score on the man advantage, but Filip Forsberg put on a show of skill as he took the puck into Minnesota’s zone, passed the puck off, and then put home the incoming rebound. This goal would tie the game, and would later send the game to overtime when neither team could score for the rest of the period.

The Predators had a tough time keeping the Wild out of their own end during the overtime period, but Saros kept the game even and the game went to a shootout. Ryan Ellis scored for Nashville in the shootout, but it was Ryan Johansen’s goal that won the game for Nashville.

Random Observations

  • Good opening to the first period capitalized by a net-front goal from Bonino, and an assist for Simmonds! 1-0 Nashville
  • After a quick check, I can confirm that Ryan Suter is (still) the worst.
  • Penalty kill successful for Nashville, and that will do it for the first. 1-0 good guys
  • Second period has begun, and Nashville can’t get anything going on offense. Thankfully, Saros looks sharp.
  • This shift tracker has really gotten more and more frustrating as the game has gone on. I understand that NBC is trying to copy the NBA formula and make the NHL more focused on star players by emphasizing the presence of Suter and Forsberg, but the execution could not be worse.
  • Those brief moments when NBC mics pick up the players chirping in scuffles are music to my ears.
  • The fans in Minnesota boo’d Matt Irwin for holding the puck behind the net, but then didn’t seem to care when the Wild did the exact same thing on the opposite side of the ice just moments later. Odd.
  • 2-on-0 opportunity for Nashville, but Minnesota separates the pass and the net becomes dislodged. Still 1-0.
  • Another scramble in front of Nashville’s net, but Saros stands tall and keeps the score column empty for the Wild.
  • Eric Fehr gets open on a breakaway and beats Saros up top. 1-1.
  • Jason Zucker gets another goal for Minnesota in the last minute of the second. 1-2 Wild.
  • That’ll do it for two periods, 1-2 Wild.
  • Bad news—Minnesota goes on the power play early in the third. Good news—Predators successfully kill off the man advantage and Arvy draws a penalty against the Wild.
  • Preds can’t score on the power play, and still need a goal.
  • Plenty of chances for both teams here, but no goals for both teams.
  • Six minutes to go in the third, and Nashville has another man advantage opportunity.
  • Moments after the power play ends, Filip Forsberg puts home a rebound from the side of the net. Tied at 2!
  • Neither team can score late in the third, so the game will go to overtime.
  • No goal in overtime, on to the shootout.
  • Joey wins it! What a filthy goal.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Filip Forsberg—Got the game-tying goal late in the game, and was a constant threat on offense.
  2. Wayne Simmonds—Got his first point as a Predator, and his line played well all night.
  3. Ryan Johansen—Won the game for Nashville in the shootout.

Tweets of the Night