Nashville Predators 3, Minnesota Wild 4: Last-second comeback falls short
Another great game from Tommy Novak wasn’t enough to overcome teamwide struggles and some bad puck luck.
The Nashville Predators headed north for a high-stakes game in the Twin Cities. The Minnesota Wild were working to defend their wild-card spot from the Preds, right behind them in the standings; the Preds, meanwhile, were—in theory—working to claim it.
Minnesota got out to a strong start. Jeremy Lauzon drew a penalty by falling down and the Preds got an early chance on the power play, but Joel Eriksson Ek got a phenomenal shorthanded chance on the breakaway and caused Juuse Saros to lose his stick making the save, setting the Wild up for an extended and nervewracking shorthanded sequence. Saros was again tasked to make another massive save on Connor Dewar, and Nino Niederreiter saved the rebound for him.
Despite the power play’s struggles, it—or maybe Saros’s hard work on it—seemed to energize the Preds, who improved as the period went on. Unfortunately, Dante Fabbro then took a penalty of his own, and the Wild’s powerhouse power play got to work. While the Preds were able to kill it off, it took their momentum with it, and the Wild finished the period strong.
Brandon Duhaime scored off the opening faceoff in the second period, putting the Wild up 1-0 just nine seconds in. The Preds looked discombobulated after allowing the goal, and Lauzon high-sticked Ryan Hartman, putting the Wild back on the power play. They promptly proceeded to score, with Kirill Kaprizov tallying the 2-0 goal at 1:37.
The Preds were finally able to get a good shift in, trapping the Wild in their zone, but weren’t able to capitalize on it, and Fabbro promptly took another penalty. Hard work from the penalty-killers and from Saros got it killed off, and the game opened up a little more as the period went on.
With 2:57 remaining in the second, Tommy Novak scored to get the Preds on the board. Their shortened deficit only lasted a few minutes of gametime, as Kaprizov scored 1:23 into the third when Novak fell and was taken out of the play.
Roman Josi then took a shot to the left arm, and left the ice in some discomfort. It took him some time and some examination on the bench, but when Novak drew a penalty a few minutes later Josi was able to join the Preds’ power play on the ice. It didn’t do them much good, as the Wild’s penalty kill remained impenetrable.
Halfway through the third and with the Preds trailing by two, Niederreiter opted to high-stick Jonas Brodin, giving the Wild yet another chance on the power play. Brodin went down to the ice and stayed there for a moment, before eventually heading down to the dressing room; the play was called as a double minor.
The Preds did some hard work on the penalty kill, and Niederreiter escaped the penalty box with no further change in score. A minute later, Josi was able to score to bring the Preds back within one. As the game ran down, Hynes pulled Saros for the extra attacker, and with 47 seconds remaining in regulation Niederreiter tipped a Josi shot through the crowd to tie the game 3-3.
However, the Preds iced the puck, and a pinballing shot bounced off Hartman and past Saros with 21 seconds remaining. Nashville was unable to get a fourth in the time remaining, and fell in regulation after all.