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Wild rally past Predators, tie record for road win streak

by Robby Stanley /

NASHVILLE -- Jason Zucker scored two goals to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.

Jason Pominville scored his 18th goal with 2:03 remaining to give the Wild their first lead of the night and help Minnesota to its 12th consecutive victory on the road, tying the NHL record (2005-06 Detroit Red Wings).

The Wild (46-27-8), who trail the Chicago Blackhawks by two points for third place in the Central Division, have their sights set on breaking the record when they visit the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

"For sure you do," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "I think it's a really cool thing that we tied it.

"I know it doesn't sound like much, and it's only two points, but I think there's a big difference between 98 and 100 points. When you get over the 100-point plateau, I think that's a mark of a really good hockey team. That meant something to us, but I think [breaking the record would] be something special for sure."

Wild forward Mikko Koivu earned his 500th career point with an assist on Zucker's second goal of the night, his 21st of the season, into an empty net with a minute remaining.

"A lot of lines were different, a lot of combinations were different, guys not used to playing with each other," Zucker said. "I think we were better as the game went on. We controlled more of the play in the second period. Guys kind of calmed down and made more plays."

Minnesota fell behind 2-0 less than 11 minutes into goaltender Darcy Kuemper's first start since Jan. 6. Yeo gave goalie Devan Dubnyk the night off after Dubnyk started 38 in a row for the Wild since being acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes in mid-January.

Nashville (47-24-10) has lost five games in a row, but it secured second place in the Central and home-ice advantage in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when St. Louis defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Thursday.

"After we went up 2-0, they battled harder than we did," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "For the next 35 minutes until the beginning of the third period, where we had lots of opportunities and looks in the third period to try and win a hockey game, but you're rolling the dice. We cruised for 35 minutes. It was not good enough. We're trying to win a hockey game in the last 20; we need to play a full 60."

Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 1-0 lead 2:58 into the game on a slap shot from the faceoff circle that beat Kuemper for his 25th goal.

Seth Jones scored to put Nashville ahead 2-0 at 10:29 on a wrist shot from the point. Jones took a pass from forward Mike Santorelli, and his shot found its way through traffic and beat Kuemper for his eighth goal.

Kuemper made 32 saves in his first game action since Jan. 20.

"I said going into it that I was feeling good about my game," Kuemper said. "I had been working hard and learning lots. Just to get that reassurance in actual game action, it feels really good to be a part of it again."

Zucker made it 2-1 at 17:12 of the second period on a power-play goal. Zucker took a pass from forward Justin Fontaine and shot it past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne from the slot.

Wild defenseman Marco Scandella tied the game 31 seconds later. After he spun around Forsberg, his wrist shot went past Rinne and under the crossbar his 10th goal.

"It's momentum," Zucker said. "Anytime you can get quick goals and big saves, it helps a lot. We were able to get that, so it was nice to find a way. [Kuemper] made some big saves and kept us in the game."

Pominville gave Kuemper and the Wild the win when his slap shot from the faceoff circle went through traffic and got past Rinne.

Along with Dubnyk, Yeo rested forwards Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, who have been dealing with nagging injuries.

"Gutsy effort tonight," Kuemper said. "We've been doing good on the road lately; [the win tonight] tied the record I'm pretty sure. We had a lot of guys out tonight, and everyone just kind of stepped up, and we stuck with it right to the end. Early deficit, and we just kind of chipped away at it."

Wild forward Matt Cooke returned to the lineup after missing 30 games following surgery for a sports hernia. He assisted on Scandella's goal.

Nashville forward Mike Fisher missed the game because of a lower-body injury and is day-to-day.

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