ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Sergei Zholtok made sure the Minnesota Wild earned at
least a tie in one of their best offensive games of the season.
Zholtok scored on a slap shot with 13.9 seconds left in the third period to
pull the Wild into a 3-3 draw with the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
"I thought we deserved at least a tie, there's no doubt," Minnesota coach
Jacques Lemaire said. "We played good enough to be there."
The Wild controlled the game, outshooting the Predators 39-23, but Minnesota
trailed 3-2 after Vladimir Orszagh scored for Nashville midway through the
A last-minute flurry, however, yielded Zholtok's goal, and an
uncharacteristically intense display of offense in overtime nearly gave
Minnesota a much-needed win. Zholtok had two of the team's several
prime-scoring chances in the extra session.
"It was probably our best game around the net," Lemaire said, "which we
need, because we don't score a lot of goals."
Tomas Vokoun made 36 saves for Nashville in his return from a two-game
absence caused by the flu. Backup goalie Chris Mason won the previous two games
after Vokoun started 21 straight.
"Tomas played great for his first game back," Predators coach Barry Trotz
said. "Early on, we could have been down three or four pucks if Tomas isn't
Scott Hartnell and Martin Erat also scored for Nashville, off to the best
start in the team's six-year history with 20 victories and 47 points. The
Predators, though, are 1-5-2-1 in their last nine road games.
"We have to make the playoffs this year," defenseman Robert Schnabel said.
"We need every point we can get. We needed two, but we'll take one."
Richard Park and Filip Kuba had goals for the Wild, 1-3-7 in their last 11
games and 1-for-35 on the power play during that time.
"I thought we played hard the whole game," Lemaire said. "To me, what
slowed us down was our power play. ... It's not too good for the morale."
Hartnell, activated from injured reserve before the game after missing 13
games with a sprained ankle, scored midway through the first period on a pass
from Andreas Johansson.
It was Johansson's first game since sustaining a concussion against Colorado
on Oct. 25.
Erat put Nashville up 2-0 later in the period on a goal that was initially
waved off for a high stick, but reversed by video replay.
With 6.9 seconds remaining before the first intermission, Minnesota's Jason
Wiemer sent a perfect pass to Park from behind the net. Park, fighting for
position in front of Johansson, quickly tapped the puck past Vokoun to cut the
Predators' lead to 2-1.
The Wild got a little lucky early in the third during a Nashville power
play. Kuba's clearing attempt from just in front of his own blue line bounced
off the boards, ricocheted off a rut in the left circle and took a crazy bounce
past Vokoun to tie it at 2.
"I don't even know what happened," Kuba said. "I just shot it as hard as
Just seconds away from victory, the Predators were predictably upset they
couldn't finish it off.
"We've been good at digging in and getting the momentum back," Trotz said.
"I thought we were in good shape right until the last 15 seconds. It was just