For the second-straight game, the Nashville Predators entered the third period with a lead but came up empty.
Charlie Coyle tied the contest for the Minnesota Wild with under seven minutes remaining, and Matt Dumba’s slapper won the game 22 seconds into overtime for the visitors, 3-2, on Tuesday night. The extra-time defeat was the Preds third loss in their last five games and eighth in their previous 10.
“When you come down to this point in the season, you need to figure out a way to close games out, and that is two games in a row where we’ve let it go,” Predators forward Matt Cullen said. “It’s 100 percent on us. We aren’t playing the right way to close games and we have 10 games to figure it out.”
“It’s frustrating, for everybody,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “At the end of the night, you have to win games. We had opportunities to win the last two games and we didn’t get it done, so there are things we can do better.”
The loss was particularly painful for the Preds because they liked many elements of their game, but still couldn’t nail down two points.
“We are playing good hockey; I don’t think they had double digit shots going in to the third, so you can’t complain about it too much,” Nashville winger Viktor Stalberg said. “But the last three or four games, the last period has been bad and we’ve shot ourselves in the foot.”
A second period that sided heavily in favor of the Predators gave the home team a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes. Roman Josi first evened the game with a blazing one-timer at 13:41 of the middle frame; then 45 seconds later, he beat Devan Dubnyk again to put Nashville ahead.
Josi’s 50th and 51st points of the season had Nashville leading on the scoreboard and ahead in shots 21-9 to begin the third, but the D-man’s coach said a lack of attack in the final period cost the Preds.
“Tonight, I felt we could have been on the attack a little more, stayed in the offensive zone,” Laviolette said of his team’s effort in the third period. “We started that way and then it went back and forth. We stopped pressing and were just looking to defend.”
“We played pretty solid for two periods again, and the last periods just have to be better,” Josi said. “We have to go after the goal and not take a step back. We have to find a way to win these games. It is all about winning in this League. You don’t get points just for playing well; we have to bear down and get two points.”
In the first period, a shot from Jordan Leopold found its way past Pekka Rinne and onto the goal line where it slowly trickled into the net. The goal was eventually credited to Charlie Coyle, his first of two scores on the evening, and put the Predators down 1-0 for the 14th time in their last 16 games.
The Wild have now beaten the Preds in two consecutive games after dropping the first two meetings between the clubs this campaign. The Central Division rivals will clash once more to decide the season series on April 9, Nashville’s home finale at Bridgestone Arena.
Roman Josi is tied for third in the NHL in points by a defenseman with 51. He is just five points shy of tying Shea Weber’s record for points by a Preds defenseman in one season (56). Josi is also second in the League in blocked shots with 195.
Matt Cullen skated in his 1,207th contest in the NHL on Tuesday to claim sole possession of the League’s 100th spot in the rankings of all-time games played.
With his assist on Josi’s first goal, Filip Forsberg retook the team lead in points with 55 (21g-34a).
Nashville now sees their longest stretch of days between games since the All-Star Break, with their next contest set to take place against Buffalo on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.