The Minnesota Wild's resiliency again took center stage against Nashville Wednesday night.
After trailing 1-0 for nearly 40 minutes, Dany Heatley, Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck scored third-period goals to give the Wild their fifth straight win with a 3-2 defeat of the Nashville Predators at the Xcel Energy Center.
"I think if you were watching the game there was a pretty good sense we were going to do it eventually," Clutterbuck said. "They played last night. They got one early, but really when they scored I think the shots were 6-0 and we had a couple of Grade-A scoring chances.
"That's the thing. That's why we're succeeding right now is just the resilience. They didn't have enough gas to keep up. We put one in and there's no looking back from there."
Josh Harding added 23 saves to improve to 6-1-1 on the season. Minnesota now boasts a 10-2-0 mark over its last 12, while the Predators (10-7-4) lost their third straight.
Wild coach Mike Yeo praised the way his team maintained focus throughout.
"Our ability to stay with it in the game and continue to execute … it's a real credit to our guys," Yeo said.
Down 1-0, Heatley sparked the rally at 1:05 of the third when he finished off a Wild 2-on-1 with captain Mikko Koivu from close range. Koivu delayed the pass, crossing just in front of the goalmouth to gift Heatley the easiest of finishes.
Brodziak's goal at 9:39 came on a man advantage, the only one of six the Wild converted. Matt Cullen collected the puck in the left circle and switched it across to Brodziak. The center one-timed it from the left dot through Pekka Rinne's five-hole for his fifth of the season.
Clutterbuck made it 3-1 with 7:41 to play, and in the process snapped Rinne's shutout streak against Minnesota at 145 minutes. With the Wild shorthanded, Koivu intercepted an errant pass and threw a pass off the sideboards that released Clutterbuck. Rinne slipped as he left the crease to challenge, and Clutterbuck easily rounded him for his fifth of the season.
What would have been a go-ahead goal proved much more valuable for Clutterbuck and the Wild, as just 38 seconds later Ryan Suter scored on the same power play to pull Nashville within one. Suter -- the recipient of a compact series of passes between Tootoo and Martin Erat -- roofed it past Harding from 10 feet for his fifth.
Tootoo opened the scoring at 5:02 with a strong move parallel to the goal. After his attempted slot-pass was deflected back to him, he moved sideways to Harding’s right post and punched it in between the goalie's pads for his second of the year.
A game removed from his early exit after giving up three first-period goals at Edmonton, Rinne was much improved with 27 saves – including 22 lead-preserving stops through two periods – but again surrendered three in one period. Rinne blamed the loss on his indecision during Clutterbuck's goal.
"I was going to come play the puck and it kind of stopped and I changed my mind and I fell down," Rinne said. "It's just terrible, I lost the game for us."
In an instance of Christmas come early, 51-year-old recreational goaltender Paul Deutsch was signed to an amateur tryout contract after Niklas Backstrom missed Wednesday for personal reasons. Deutsch warmed up as Harding's emergency backup, but was scratched when Matt Hackett arrived at the rink on his recall from AHL's Houston Aeros.