ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild are a confident bunch as the NHL
season nears the halfway point.
Scoring will do that for a team that recently was starved for offense.
Marian Gaborik broke a nine-game goal drought for the Wild in a 3-3 tie with
the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
Richard Park and Jason Wiemer also scored for Minnesota, which extended its
season-high unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2) and has 20 goals over that
"We're playing well right now," center Wes Walz said. "We're on our game.
I'm really excited here about what we can do in the second half."
David Legwand, Mark Eaton and Adam Hall had goals for Nashville, which tied
Phoenix 3-3 at home Monday.
"Maybe we had a little edge there," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said,
noting the Predators' back-to-back games.
Goalie Tomas Vokoun's tireless work kept Nashville in it. He saved 23 of 26
shots, and several of them were difficult stops.
"You didn't get any easy shots," Vokoun said. "I mean, look at me. I'm
soaked. That was one of the toughest games I've played in."
His words were a testament to Minnesota's newfound aggressiveness in the
"I think our guys are starting to have confidence," Lemaire said. "That's
the reason why they're scoring more goals, too.
"You go hard at the net, you're going to get some breaks. You're going to
get some bounces."
Nashville had a power play with 30.3 seconds left in overtime after Andrei
Zyuzin was whistled for holding. But Kimmo Timonen's last-second attempt
glanced off Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez, over the net and out of trouble.
Fernandez, who gave up just nine goals in his previous seven starts, wasn't
at his best -- stopping 17 of 20 shots.
Hall scored on a power play late in a five-goal second period to put
Nashville ahead 3-2, the Predators' second score with a man advantage in the
last 10 games. They're 2-for-48 on power plays during that span.
Wiemer tied it at 3 a little more than a minute after Hall's goal when
Pierre Marc-Bouchard circled behind the net and threaded the puck through
traffic to Wiemer on the other side for an easy goal.
Legwand, Nashville's leading scorer, gave the Predators a 1-0 lead just 44
seconds in when, unchallenged between the circles, he poked a rebound past
Eaton answered Gaborik's backhanded with a long rebound that appeared to
glance off Wild defenseman Brad Bombardir's stick, putting the Predators up
Bouchard, Park, Gaborik, Willie Mitchell and Filip Kuba all missed prime
scoring chances on Vokoun, 15-12-4 this season. Mitchell hit the post with less
than six minutes remaining in regulation.
Gaborik's season-long frustration continued in the first period, when he had
two point-blank shots turned away by Vokoun in succession before Eaton cleared
the puck out of the crease.
The franchise's first-ever All-Star last season, Gaborik missed the first 12
games during a contract dispute and has only four goals and five assists in 23
games since signing a multiyear deal on Oct. 31.
He's skating better now -- Lemaire left him out there for some double shifts
in this one.
"I felt pretty good," Gaborik said. "You're hungry for more, obviously."
It's early, but this was an important game -- the first of four meetings this
season between two of the four most recent expansion entries into the NHL.
Nashville and Minnesota began the day in eighth and ninth place, respectively,
in what promises to be a crowded Western Conference playoff race.
"Every point is so important," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "You
don't want to lose any ground."