With three rookie defensemen in their lineup, the Nashville Predators were going to require a strong performance from goaltender Pekka Rinne on Wednesday night.
That's just what they got.
Rinne stopped 34 shots through overtime and was perfect in the shootout as the Preds escaped with a 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena.
"Everyone is playing really well, and that's what we need," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "It all starts with Pekka.
"It was pretty tight out there, I think that is fair to say. They defended well. I thought we played great defensively. We really stepped up our game and focused on playing defense."
After the game, Rinne had nothing but praise for newcomers Jonathon Blum, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis.
"They are playing their games and playing to their strengths," Rinne said. "They are not trying to not make mistakes. That's the biggest thing for them."
Colin Wilson scored the only goal in the shootout, which proved to be enough to send the reeling Wild to their eighth straight loss.
"We thought Wilson was ready for it," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I give a lot of credit to Mitch Korn, our goaltending coach, who breaks down the opposition's goaltenders."
Jordin Tootoo scored for the Predators, with an assist from Blum, to give Nashville a 1-0 lead 7 minutes into the third period. Dany Heatley tied it for the Wild with 3:59 remaining in regulation.
Wilson, in only his second shootout attempt of the season, beat Josh Harding with a backhanded shot. He credited the scouting report with his decision to make that move.
"I looked for some area there and I didn't see anything so I quickly moved to my backhand and went up top," Wilson said. "I was pretty confident coming in that I could make that play."
The Wild outshot the Predators 11-10 in the first period, 11-5 in the second and 35-25 overall. Minnesota, 0-5-3 since winning at Phoenix on Dec. 10, had the only four shots in overtime.
Tootoo scored when he deflected Blum's wrist shot from the point.
"I didn't see it," Harding said. "There was a high screen, and one of our guys was in the way. I heard it hit the post. I was hoping it went the other way instead of in the net."
Heatley tied it by scoring on a wraparound that went under Rinne's outstretched pads.
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo was pleased with the way his team played and was thankful to earn a point in the standings.
"For sure it was important, and not just for the sake of getting a point," Yeo said. "It was a reminder that if we stay with things, if we play our game for 60 minutes, then we are going to have a great chance to win the game. We didn't win the game today, but I believe we deserved to win it."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report