Colin Wilson and P.K. Subban gave their club a chance, but the Nashville Predators ultimately fell, 5-2, to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center. The loss in their first game back after the five-day break keeps Nashville at 62 points on the season and gives teams coming out of the break a 3-12-4 record overall.
It would've been easy for the Preds to make an excuse for the loss after being off the ice for five days, but that was hardly the case. Nashville outshot and out chanced the Wild and used two goals in the third period to give Minnesota a scare before the night was over.
"I don't think the five-day break played into it," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "If we were flat or sluggish; that's not how I saw the game. I thought we were competitive, we got on the wrong side of the scoreboard early in the game, tough bounces, their goalie played well. But I think chances will be in our favor at the end of the night, shots are in our favor at the end of the night; we did a lot of good things."
Mikael Granlund gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead on an early power-play opportunity, when he jammed home a loose puck past Pekka Rinne for the opening period's only goal.
The teams traded chances in the second, and before the period was out, Jason Zucker finished a 2-on-1 opportunity to put the Wild up by two. Mikko Koivu made it 3-0 less than a minute into the third, but then the Preds made things interesting.
Video: NSH@MIN: Wilson powers a rebound past Dubnyk
At the 8:16 mark of the period, Wilson followed up a Yannick Weber chance to deposit his eighth of the season to cut the lead to two. Then, two minutes later, Subban fired a shot from the point that was originally waved off due to goaltender interference, but after review, Subban was credited with his eighth of the campaign and his first tally since Dec. 6 to pull Nashville to within one.
Video: NSH@MIN: Subban wires home a slap shot from the point
"Whenever you're down a couple goals, you need guys to step up and two big players for our hockey club made some plays, so it was good to see," center Ryan Johansen said. "We felt like we had a chance there."
As the game wound down, however, Zucker got his second of the night and Eric Staal added an empty-netter to seal the victory for Minnesota.
"It's that time of the year where these points are important," forward Vernon Fiddler said. "If you get the two points, you have to put it in the bank and move on to the next one and get those two points. With the loss, you've got to do the same thing. You can't lose two in a row, and we lost this one, but we've got to get back on the horse and get back at it tomorrow."
Nashville will now jet off to Columbus to prepare to face the Blue Jackets on Sunday evening, Ryan Johansen's first return to Nationwide Arena as a member of the Preds.
"We'll look at some stuff tomorrow morning. I'm sure and things we can do better but our guys, we competed hard," Johansen said. "That's the main thing, so as long as we lace them up again tomorrow and have the same work ethic, hopefully a couple bounces will go our way and stay out of the box a little more, and we'll be successful."
Video: NSH Recap: Wilson, Subban score in loss to Wild
Prior to Saturday's game, the Preds recalled forward Kevin Fiala from Milwaukee. Fiala did not dress against the Wild.
Nashville will fly to Columbus and prepare to face the Blue Jackets on Sunday evening from Nationwide Arena, a 5 p.m. CT puck drop, before returning to Nashville to begin a four-game home stand on Tuesday night against Calgary.