Slowly but surely, the Minnesota Wild and coach Todd Richards are becoming a cohesive unit.
Andrew Ebbett scored 1:26 into overtime on Wednesday night as the Wild extended their points streak to five games with a 5-4 victory against the Nashville Predators at the Xcel Energy Center.
''I've really enjoyed myself here,'' said Ebbett, who was claimed on waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks. ''It's been frustrating so far this year, so it's a big relief to jump in and help out right away and get some opportunities.''
Guillaume Latendresse, who scored for Minnesota during a wacky five-goal first period, was stopped twice by Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne before Ebbett grabbed the puck and backhanded it home for his third goal of the season. Both Ebbett and Latendresse joined the team in the past two weeks.
''You know that they're going to have that initial energy where they want to come in and they want to do really well,'' Richards said. ''Whenever you bring in somebody new, there's always a little bit of a threat of guys getting ice time and position. So it's that competition amongst the team, which is a healthy thing.''
Nashville's top line performed well despite the loss. Jason Arnott had a pair of goals, including the go-ahead tally early in the third period, while Steve Sullivan had three assists and tied the game at 3 with his goal midway through the second period. Arnott, Sullivan and J.P. Dumont combined for nine points after a dismal performance on Monday against Calgary, when they had just four shots on goal and a minus-5 rating. Wednesday was the Predators' third loss in four games after they had won seven in a row.
''It's kind of up to us to lead by example and lead the way offensively and defensively,'' said Arnott, Nashville's captain. ''We wanted to come out tonight, keep our feet moving and stay with it. Just work hard, and good things should happen.''
Niklas Backstrom stopped 31 of 35 shots for Minnesota and 10 off 11 in the third period.
Marcel Goc gave Nashville the lead just 7:20 into the game, but Antti Miettinen and Cal Clutterbuck scored just over four minutes apart to give the Wild the lead. Arnott responded with his first goal of the night at 16:52 to tie the game until Latendresse put Minnesota back in front with 2:32 left in the five-goal first.
"The way our system is made, I think it's fun for our fans," Latendresse said. "We work hard, but we try to create a lot of offense. I think it's great to play that way. I like the system down here."
Sullivan scored the lone goal of the second period, which came at 8:27, before Arnott put the Preds in front on Arnott's second of the night just 3:42 into the third.
But a nifty feed from Andrew Brunette across the slot allowed Mikko Koivu to score the tying goal with just 6:58 left in regulation. It was his seventh goal of the season.
''We turned pucks over like we were handing out Christmas presents,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.
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