Nashville Predators 2, Minnesota Wild 4: So Long Division Championship Hopes

The Predators needed at least a point to keep their hopes for a first-ever banner alive. They didn't get it.

A depleted Minnesota Wild team took the ice in Nashville tonight, opting to rest a few of their important players after clinching a playoff berth for the third-straight year. Zach Parise, Thomas Vanekm, Nino Niederreiter and ironman Devan Dubnyk all took the night off.

Needless to say, a loss of any kind would be embarrassing, especially considering the Central division could be won or lost this evening.

Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones notched a tally before the game was 20 minutes old. Things were looking up for the good ol' Preds, but the Second Period Nap struck again... and it struck hard. Jason Zucker and Marco Scandella took the Wild from zero to two in 31 seconds.

The third period was back and forth (with more forth from Preds) until Jason Pominville ended Nashville's hopes of taking the Central division. Zucker potted the empty netter and sent the Predators home empty handed. With St. Louis winning against Chicago, the Blues are the division champs.

The full recap is coming, but for now...

Quickie HighLowlight of the Night

Random Observations

  • Darcy Kuemper hadn't played hockey since the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. If there was any rust on him, Nashville didn't want to wait to see if it would come of easily or not. Though the Preds only pumped 8 shots on him during the first period, two of them went in, and both were from long distances. It took Forsberg only 2:58 to break the scoring. Hoorah.
  • Dat walk of the blue line, tho.
  • Other than that, there wasn't much else to the 1st period. Shot counts were low and so was the excitement. Minnesota gonna Minnesota.
  • We talk all the time about the dreaded Second Period Nap. It comes and it goes, but it's starting to be a real problem. Nashville just cannot play with a lead. Zucker got his goal on the power play, fine. The Predators' penalty kill is average at best. But letting Scandella score an absolute highlight-reel goal barely 30 seconds later to tie the game? Situations like that have become commonplace for this team.
  • Minnesota pumped 15 shots on goal in the second period. The team playing with a two-goal lead is bound to give up a few more shots than if they were tied, but letting the Wild storm back like that is something that should be mitigated at all costs. The Preds failed to do so, ergo the tie game.
  • After Nashville got those two goals in the first five minutes, they really sat back. Sometimes "killer instinct" is a vague narrative term that doesn't have any real basis in what's actually going on tonight. Not recently, though. Preds don't have it.
  • Stop me if you've heard this one before: the top line was the best on the ice tonight. Ribeiro, Forsberg and Neal were buzzing and pressuring all game, but especially in the third period. It's been like that since they were reunited, and they'll be relied heavily next week and beyond (hopefully). Paging the other three lines...
  • Well, it didn't matter in the end. The mayor, sheriff and chief financial officer of Pominville took a shot from the high slot and buried the eventual game winner. The set up came from defensive zone faceoff loss, and Pominville was uncontested on the ice. Gut, meet punch.

Tweets of the Night

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • No one
  • Deserves
  • Stars

So here we are. One more game to play and the Predators have lost five games in a row, lost a huge lead in the Central division. The team that was dominating at the beginning of the season is gone, with no signs of returning on the horizon. Players after the game separately said there is no "urgency," and that something needs to change. Peter Laviolette said "everything starts at the top. So it starts with me."

Losing to a team resting three of their main players and an underused goaltender is embarrassing. Letting in two goals in immediate succession for the second-consecutive game is embarrassing. After everything that's happened over the past month, it's hard to feel very optimistic about the Predators going forward. One good game on Saturday may not be enough to shake that feeling. Can they flip a switch? They better hope so. Minnesota or Chicago will be waiting.

Boxscore - Game Summary - Event Summary - War-on-Ice - HockeyStats - Natural Stat Trick

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