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game recap

Jason Zucker scores twice, Wild defeat Predators

Devan Dubnyk makes 37 saves for NHL-leading 32nd victory

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Devan Dubnyk made 37 saves, and Jason Zucker scored twice for the Minnesota Wild in a 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

Dubnyk leads the NHL in wins (32), save percentage (.934) and goals-against average (1.97). He is 5-1-0 with 12 goals allowed in his past six games.

"We did a good job staying with it," Dubnyk said. "We probably want to be a little tighter when we've got a 3-0 lead, but end of the day, big goal from [Zucker] and we locked it down at the end."

 

WATCH: All Predators vs. Wild highlights

 

The Wild (39-13-6) are 15-4-1 in their past 20 games and 7-2-1 in their past 10 home games. They lead the Chicago Blackhawks by nine points for first place in the Central Division and the Western Conference and are 14-4-3 against Central opponents this season. 

The Predators (27-22-8), 10-6-1 in their past 17 games, returned from a five-day break. NHL teams are 3-12-4 in the first game back from their break and 0-8-3 in February. 

"I don't think the five-day break played into it," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "I mean, if we were flat or sluggish, that's not how I saw the game. Everybody sees the game different. We were competitive, we got on the wrong side of the scoreboard early in the game, tough bounces, their goalie played well."

Mikael Granlund scored 22 seconds into the power play at 2:38 of the first period to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. The Wild have scored 13 power-play goals in their past 13 home games and lead the NHL with a .275 power-play percentage at home. 

Video: NSH@MIN: Granlund pots rebound for power-play goal

Granlund dished to Jason Zucker down low for a 2-0 lead at 17:00 of the second period. It was Zucker's 100th NHL point (59 goals, 41 assists) in his 227th game. 

Wild center Mikko Koivu got his 600 NHL point, in his 820th game, 35 seconds into the third period when he scored for a 3-0 lead. 

Colin Wilson scored on a rebound to deny Dubnyk a shutout at 8:16; it was his third goal in his past 25 games. P.K. Subban made it 3-2 at 10:25 after a Nashville coach's challenge overturned the initial ruling of goaltender interference. 

"Whenever you're down a couple goals, you need guys to step up, and two big players for our hockey club made some plays," Predators center Ryan Johansen said. "It was good to see. We felt like we had a chance there and they found a way to get a lucky break and put one in the net."

Zucker scored on a breakaway at 16:41 of the third, and Eric Staal scored into an empty net at 18:05.

"[We're just] trying to keep building it, though, trying to make sure we keep getting better," Zucker said. "This is a time we've got to keep building and keep getting better every game for [the Stanley Cup Playoffs]."

Video: NSH@MIN: Subban wires home a slap shot from the point

 

Goal of the game

Granlund and Zucker forced a 2-on-1, and Zucker scored off Granlund's pass to increase the Wild lead. 

"I'll take those passes from Granny all day," Zucker said. "I think he slid it through [goalie Pekka] Rinne's stick, through the triangle of Rinne. So, I mean, that's a pretty ridiculous pass."

Video: NSH@MIN: Zucker slides home Granlund's nifty dish

 

Save of the game

Dubnyk stacked the pads against Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis on a shorthanded breakaway at 6:25 of the first period.

Video: NSH@MIN: Dubnyk stacks the pads to deny Ellis' break

 

Unsung performance of the game

Ellis blocked an open shot by Koivu at 6:04 of the first period. Ellis led the Predators with four blocked shots and had one takeaway in a Nashville-high 24:53 of ice time. 

 

Highlight of the game

Zucker skated in alone and backhanded a shot past Rinne for an insurance goal.

Video: NSH@MIN: Zucker slides a nifty backhander past Rinne

 

They said it

"We'll look at some stuff tomorrow morning, I'm sure, and things we can do better, but our guys, we competed hard, and that's the main thing, so as long as we lace 'em up tomorrow and have that same work ethic, hopefully a couple bounces go our way and stay out of the box a little more and we'll be successful." -- Predators center Ryan Johansen

 

"It's like anything else. You've got a 3-0 lead and you think you're in full control of the game. You give a team one goal and momentum swings so quickly and then all of a sudden they get the next one and it's like, 'Uh oh.' Game on. They were coming ... and I think [Zucker's] goal took the wind out of their sails." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau 

 

Need to know

Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, who missed 14 games with a finger injury, was activated from injured reserve. He was plus-1 and blocked one shot in 14:55 of ice time.

 

What's next 

Wild: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, CSN-CH, NHL.TV)

Predators: At the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; FS-O, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Dubnyk, Wild edge Predators, 5-2

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