The Nashville Predators took on the Minnesota Wild tonight in an attempt to get their feet back under them in the playoff race. The game started well, with the Preds out to a good start, before Luke Kunin took a penalty. The Preds’ penalty kill did a great job and kept the Wild’s power play from getting any shots on net, and with the penalty killed off the teams returned to even strength.
The Preds had a fantastic flurry of chances nearing the halfway mark of the first period, but although one of the Wild defenders ended up with a broken stick in there, Marc-Andre Fleury was able to make the saves, and the Wild eventually broke back out with some offense of their own and David Rittich was also tested.
Mattias Ekholm took an uncalled high hit halfway through the period, but—worse for the Preds—had cleared the puck over the glass just before that. The Preds went back to the penalty kill. Colton Sissons had an aggressive clear that gave him a shorthanded chance, but Fleury read the play well and made the save. Play returned to the Preds’ end, and unfortunately Mark Borowiecki knocked the puck into his own net instead of sweeping it out of the crease, putting the Wild up 1-0.
Although the Preds tried to respond, an early whistle as a referee lost sight of the puck before Fleury had it covered stifled that first rallying attempt. After the commercial break, some commotion broke out. Filip Forsberg checked Jared Spurgeon—sending him off down the tunnel—and Brandon Duhaime got called for interference against Matt Duchene in the ensuing fracas.
The power play was without reward despite getting some chances early. Roman Josi took a puck to the face on the power play and the Wild’s Connor Dewar got a shorthanded chance out of it, but Josi was able to help get back to break up the chance.
With three minutes left in the period, the Wild were almost able to double their lead. Rittich managed to make the saves, and when some hostilities broke out seconds later the only player penalized was Joseph Cramarossa, putting the Preds on the power play again. Frederick Gaudreau set Dewar up for a fantastic shorthanded chance, but luckily for the Preds Dewar hit the post.
With three seconds left in the period, Filip Forsberg scored his 40th of the season to tie the game 1-1.
The second period started out chaotically, with some back and forth followed by Dmitry Kulikov—off-balance after a hit—tripping over one of his teammates and skidding hard into his own net, knocking it off the pegs. Kulikov seemed okay, and after he got back up and the net was secured play resumed.
Both teams traded chances back and forth, with the Wild’s rested skaters looking sharper overall. A Roman Josi chance got completely cut off, not a usual occurrence. The Wild regained their lead with 6:38 elapsed as everyone slid into Rittich and he was unable even to move, let alone make the save. Jacob Middleton started the pileup, going skates-first into Rittich’s pads, and it wasn’t until after that contact that Kunin and Josi joined the heap.
A penalty for unsportsmanlike contact was called on Rittich after this. The Preds challenged for goalie interference, but the review determined that Kunin had put Middleton into Rittich, giving them another penalty and the Wild a full two-minute two-skater advantage.
Kirill Kaprizov hit a post early, and the Preds got a break when their net came off the pegs. The penalty killers and Rittich responded strongly, killing off the rest of the penalty and getting a standing ovation as time ran out and Nick Cousins and Philip Tomasino, serving the penalties for Rittich and the bench respectively, returned to the ice.
Halfway through the period, Kunin drew a penalty for a change, sending Jon Merill to the box for tripping him and putting the Preds back on the power play. Duchene shot early and scored slightly-less-early, tying the game 2-2 and retaking the goalscoring lead from Forsberg.
The Preds went back on the attack, and a scuffle broke out shortly after. No penalties were called, and the Preds almost took the lead on a Kunin shot that bounced off the inside of the post and back out—the goal horn sounded, but the puck never entered the net.
At the other end of the ice, two hundred feet away from his own net, Nicolas Deslauriers got called for cross-checking and almost took another two for yelling at the referees; he got his temper under control just in time. Ryan Johansen gave the Preds the 3-2 lead for real, collecting a Granlund rebound with Fleury down on the ice on the other side of the blue paint.
After that, though, Colton Sissons high-sticked Ryan Hartman, sending the Wild in turn back to the power play. There were more scuffles—a Wild player took a late swipe at the puck and Rittich—and then a delay as the net came off the pegs yet again. The ice crew came out for repair work at this point.
With 1:55 remaining in the period, Alex Carrier was called for high-sticking. Kevin Fiala made a great pass to Joel Eriksson Ek, who tied the game 3-3 on the power play. With 23 seconds left in the period, Fiala added a goal of his own to restore the Wild’s lead, 4-3.
The Preds got an early chance on the power play in the third as Deslauriers was called for boarding, a two-minute penalty assessed for a hit on Matt Benning. As that penalty was expiring, Eeli Tolvanen hooked Gaudreau, and the Wild returned to the skater advantage. The Preds were able to kill the penalty and get out of danger, but struggled to sustain offense.
Fiala got another great chance a little more than halfway through the period, but some solid work from Rittich and Dante Fabbro kept the puck out. Moments later, Fabbro added to his credits for the evening by scoring to tie the game again at 4. This time, the post didn’t help Fleury out; Fabbro’s shot went off and in.
The teams’ offense pretty much stalled out at that, and they headed to overtime. An early turnover by the Wild didn’t generate anything for the Preds. Duchene almost managed to score, but Fiala raced in to clear the puck to safety. The Preds continued their attack, but the Wild got some chances toward the end of overtime. Rittich made a big save on Matt Boldy, but missed Kulikov’s shot with two seconds remaining.