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game recap

Predators tied for third in Central after shutout

Loss eliminates second-place Wild from winning division

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators are tied for third place in the Central Division after a 3-0 win against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday. 

The Predators (40-27-11) are tied with the St. Louis Blues and play them Sunday. If Nashville wins or reaches overtime, it would become the final Western team to clinch a berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

"Obviously for us, the biggest thing is to clinch the playoffs," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "Now we are that much closer."

The Predators lead the Los Angeles Kings by 10 points for the Western second wild card; the Kings have five games remaining.

 

WATCH: All Wild vs. Predators highlights

 

The Wild (45-25-8) are 1-3-2 in their past six games and this loss allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to clinch the Central Division and top seed in the West. 

Video: Rinne earns Saturday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

"The first 10 minutes, we were good," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think after that, we lost battles. You don't get power plays because you don't make them pull you down or do anything wrong, those things are going to happen." 

The Predators could play the Wild in the Western Conference First Round.

"We realize that," Nashville captain Mike Fisher said. "We know how good of a team they are, and I think that brought the best out of us tonight. I thought everyone played really, really well tonight. The playoffs are a different story, but those types of games do go in the memory bank."

Rinne made 31 saves for his third shutout of the season. He ended a two-game losing streak and is 6-2-0 in his past eight games.

Video: MIN@NSH: Rinne stops Niederreiter through traffic

"I thought that guys did a really good job preparing themselves," he said. "It's been a demanding week so far, schedule-wise. Obviously you've got to give credit to the guys. It was probably one of the fastest games this year, good pace. Minnesota came hard. We knew they were going to come hard, but we responded really well." 

Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 17:21 of the second period on a redirection. Roman Josi took the shot from the point, and Forsberg tipped it past Wild goaltender Alex Stalock for his 31st goal.

Kevin Fiala made it 2-0 10 seconds later with a backhand-to-forehand move on the rush for his 10th goal.

P.K. Subban scored his 10th, an empty-net goal at 17:37 of the third period that made it 3-0.

 

Goal of the game

Fiala got a loose puck along the wall in the offensive zone and cut to the middle of the ice, got around Christian Folin and beat Stalock around the right pad.

Video: NSH@MIN: Fiala nets a nifty goal

 

Save of the game

Rinne made a save on Zach Parise in the second period that knocked the mask off of his head and kept the game 0-0.

 

Unsung performance of the game

Johansen won the faceoff back to Josi on Forsberg's goal.

Video: MIN@NSH: Forsberg deflects Josi's shot past Stalock

 
Highlight of the game

Rinne got just enough of his glove on a one-timer from Mikael Granlund in the third period to change the trajectory of the puck. It hit the post and preserved the shutout.

 

They said it

"Do you think you're going to do that every game, keep teams to 19 shots? It's not going to happen. In this building, this team shoots from everywhere. They shoot everything. They're going to get their shots. If you can hold Nashville to 18, 19 shots in their building, it means they didn't come to play." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on the Predators' 36 shots (Minnesota allowed fewer than 20 shots in three straight games)

 

"I thought both teams played really hard today. It was playoff hockey, it was fast and it was tight. Any team that didn't play like that for 60 minutes, you probably weren't going to win the game." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette

 

Need to know

Stalock played for the second time in three days. He defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Thursday, which was his first NHL game since Feb. 11, 2016. … Wild center Martin Hanzal won 14 of 20 faceoffs. … The Predators have 12 players with at least 10 goals, most in their history. … Wild forward Jason Zucker (lower body) and Predators forward James Neal (upper body) were scratched. Neal was hit in the head by a puck in a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

 

What's next

Wild: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-N, NHL.TV)

Predators: At the St. Louis Blues on Sunday (4 p.m. ET; FS-TN, FS-MW, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Rinne's 31-save shutout leads Preds past Wild, 3-0

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