NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The Nashville Predators are scoring early and often, a combination that is difficult to beat.
For the second game in a row they scored three first-period goals, this time on the way to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
Martin Gelinas, Dan Hamhuis and J.P. Dumont all scored in the opening period. Dumont extended his goal streak to four games, a career high.
"Let's talk about something else," Dumont said. "I don't like to talk about streaks."
He did, however, stress the importance of the Predators' early starts in their last three wins.
"We have to come out strong," Dumont said. "We are playing with confidence and that is huge for us. I don't know why it is happening, but I'm glad it is. We are a different team, a tougher team, when we have the early lead."
Dumont's linemate Jason Arnott was more specific.
"We are hitting the net a lot more and getting a lot of traffic," he said. "Pucks are finding their way into the net now. We have to be prepared every single game to come out with points."
Mark Parrish had the only goal for the Wild.
Gelinas gave the Predators a 1-0 lead 6:54 in with a shot from close range that beat goalie Josh Harding to the glove side.
Hamhuis pushed Nashville's advantage to two when he fired a high one-timer from just inside the blue line into the left side of the net at 8:03.
"I never saw the shot," said Hamhuis who fell to the ice after the puck left his stick. "Sometimes the points come and sometimes they don't.
"I try to play an all-around game and chip in offensively when I can. But this year one of my main assignments is to shut down the opposition's top line."
Dumont made it 3-0 with 1:50 left in the first, sending a shot from the bottom part of the right circle between Harding's pads and the right post.
Minnesota ended Dan Ellis' shutout bid at 3:43 of the second period. Parrish took a shot from in front of the crease that beat Ellis low to the stick side.
"We had maybe three or four guys that were not mentally ready to play," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We had a couple of mistakes and they put pucks in the net. That gave the Predators momentum."
Martin Erat gave the Predators a 4-1 advantage in the third. He took control of the puck and skated alone down the left side to set up a slap shot from the center of the left circle that caught Harding several feet out of the net at 7:26.
"There weren't any concerns in the third period," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "All the parts of our game are coming together."
Ellis, signed as a free agent last summer, stopped 29 shots for his fourth consecutive victory. After telling Ellis he made the team in training camp, Trotz stressed the importance of staying on the roster.
"I told him not to give me a reason to send him back down," Trotz said. "I didn't have any expectations when he came to camp because I didn't know anything about him.
"He is playing really well. He is seeing the puck well and we are playing well in front of him. He is doing everything he can to stay here."
Ellis is taking the streak in stride.
"Our guys are on a bit of high right now," he said. "Our lines are really clicking. Our defense is playing great. We are winning as a team.
"I feel real good with the way things are going right now. The whole team is playing some of the best hockey we have played all season. It is carrying over from game to game."
Notes: Alexander Radulov added a pair of assists, extending his point streak to six games. He has five goals and four assists during the spurt. ... Nashville snapped a four-game losing streak to the Wild. ... Minnesota opened a four-game road trip. Ryan Suter was a healthy scratch for the Predators, a disappointment to his father, Bob, who was in town with a junior team he coaches. It was the first home sellout of the season for the Predators.
|Martin Gelinas (6) ASST: David Legwand (22), Dan Hamhuis (13)|
1 - 0 NSH
|Dan Hamhuis (3) ASST: Alexander Radulov (17), J-P Dumont (15)|
2 - 0 NSH
|J-P Dumont (14) ASST: Alexander Radulov (18)|
3 - 0 NSH
|Mark Parrish (11) ASST: Stephane Veilleux (4), James Sheppard (8)|
3 - 1 NSH
|Martin Erat (10) ASST: Jerred Smithson (3)|
4 - 1 NSH
|Keith Carney Hooking against Darcy Hordichuk|
|Kim Johnsson Hooking against Martin Erat|
|Branko Radivojevic Hi-sticking against Ville Koistinen|
|Martin Erat Delaying Game - Puck over glass|