Photo by John Russell
J.P. Dumont scored Nashville's lone goal in Saturday's 4-1 loss, notching his 13th of the season to put the Preds up 1-0 in the first.
The Nashville Predators got on the scoreboard first but couldn't hold on against a disciplined Minnesota Wild team that netted four unanswered goals to hand Nashville a 4-1 loss Saturday night at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. J.P. Dumont converted a feed from Jason Arnott midway through the first period to give the Nashville Predators the lead. Wild center Pavol Demitra, who led his club with a goal and an assist, scored six seconds into Minnesota's first power play to tie the game 1:20 into the second period. Minnesota added another power-play tally, a penalty shot conversion and an empty net goal to give Nashville its second loss in as many nights.
The Predators, who were blanked 1-0 by St. Louis on Friday, now fall to 39-18-3 on the season. The team remains in town for a Monday night tilt against the Phoenix Coyotes. The start time for that President's Day game is 5:00 p.m. CT. For tickets, order online, call 615-770-PUCK or visit any Ticketmaster outlet or the GEC box office.
Defenseman Greg Zanon started the scoring play for Nashville when he shoveled a puck deep from his position on the right wall of the offensive zone. Arnott received the puck behind the net and spotted Dumont alone near the hash marks in the left circle. With Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom low to the ice in a butterfly stance, Dumont converted a quick turnaround of Arnott's pass with a shot high into the net at 9:38 of the first.
Just over a minute into the second period, Predators defenseman Ryan Suter was whistled for firing the puck out of play from his own zone. Video replay showed the puck technically ticked off the stick of a Minnesota player before exiting the rink, which does not merit a penalty, but the called stood and ended up costing Nashville. The Wild won the ensuing offensive zone face-off and set up Brian Rolston for a straightaway point shot. Predators starter Tomas Vokoun make the save but Demitra was in perfect position for the rebound and simply slid it around Vokoun and into the net at the 1:20 mark.
Minnesota took a 2-1 lead 11:59 into the final period, again on the power play. With Paul Kariya in the penalty box for tripping, Demitra and Marian Gaborik executed a give-and-go play at the Nashville blue line to gain entrance to the Predators zone. Demitra carried the puck behind the net from right to left and backhanded a pass in the direction he came to Gaborik in front. Gaborik's shot beat Vokoun through the legs, deflecting in off the netminder's right pad.
The Wild extended the lead to 3-1 just over three minutes later. Nashville was applying pressure in the offensive zone when defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski's point shot was blocked by Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard. That allowed Bouchard to release in the other direction with the puck, and Vishnevsky was whistled for impeding the Wild winger on his breakaway. On the resulting penalty shot Bouchard swept in from right to left, stickhandling multiple times until he drew Vokoun's legs apart and deposited the puck between them to give Minnesota a two-goal cushion with 4:48 remaining in regulation.
The Predators pulled Vokoun with 1:26 left to add an extra attacker to the ice. Nashville was able to generate some pressure but ultimately yielded a back-breaking empty-net tally to Branko Radivojevic at 19:43 of the third period.
Peter Forsberg, making his Predators debut after being acquired via trade on Thursday, and David Legwand had close calls in the first period, which was Nashville's strongest segment of the game. Legwand's attempt at the 6:20 mark hit the post and prompted the red goal light to inadvertently be lit. Forsberg's scoring bid came seconds into the Predators' first power play, which began at 14:10 of the first. Forsberg, working low along the left side, hit defenseman Marek Zidlicky with a pass and Zidlicky fired on net. The shot was stopped by Backstrom but bounced left toward Forsberg, who was unable to get his stick on the tumbling puck as he closed in on the wide-open net.
Forsberg was a force in the face-off circle for much of the game and showed flashes of his brilliance with a few nice plays to set up teammates for quality chances. He finished the evening with 19:32 of ice time.
NOTES: Predators center Scott Nichol won all eight face-offs he took in the game... The Predators had only allowed three power-play goals in the previous 10 games (42-45), but allowed two tonight... Nashville was 12-1-1 in the second game of back-to-back games entering tonight. The team is now 12-2-1... Saturday marked only the eighth loss of the season for Nashville when scoring first (30-8-1)... It was only the fifth regulation home loss of season (21-5-3)... The Predators have only allowed five goals in last three games, including one on penalty shot and one empty netter (0 vs. SJ, 1 at St. Louis and 4 vs. Minnesota)... Darcy Hordichuk and Kimmo Timonen were scratches for Nashville.
PREDATORS RIGHT WING STEVE SULLIVAN
On the loss...
"We had a great effort tonight, I just think it was decision making. Obviously, a tough call on their first goal to tie the hockey game. That changed momentum. But, we have a lot of talent in here, a lot of character; we should have found a way to dig down. Teams are going to play tough against us; they're going to close up the neutral zones, and they aren't going to let us wheel and deal through there. So, we have to find ways to get pucks deep and then create offense."
On distractions possibly attributing to the loss...
"We are professionals in here. This is part of the business. We've all been part of it; quite a few times probably for most of us. There's no reason for that to be a distraction. We are 5-6 since the All-Star break. The first six or seven games, there were no distractions and we still weren't very good. It's time for us to turn it around."
On whether it's time to start to panic
"There's no such thing as panic time. We know what's in this dressing room, we know what's got to get done, it's just a matter of going out and playing to our strengths and our skill will take over."
PREDATORS LEFT WING PAUL KARIYA
On being comfortable on the ice with Peter Forsberg...
Well, we are friends off the ice, so it makes it a lot easier to play together. But, like I said, I think it takes a little time. I thought we played pretty well, but didn't bury our opportunities.
PREDATORS CENTER PETER FORSBERG
On the game...
"I thought we came out and played really good in the first period. We were up 1-0 and had a lot of bit on 2-0, but (the Wild had) two (power play) goals and a penalty shot. I thought we played pretty well 5-on-5. I wasn't that good today. I was just trying to pass a little too much. Maybe it's going to take a few games to get into the regular game."
On the adjustment process...
"It varies, but today, there were a lot of things going on the past couple of days and so it was a little tough. I was a little tired at the beginning there. Like I said, I was trying to make it a little too complicated and I'm playing with a great line. So, there isn't any reason at all we shouldn't be good next game."
On the chemistry with Paul Kariya...
"We had a couple great chances in the first period. When they scored (to make it) 1-1, they kind of sat back and it's tough to get chances against Minnesota when they back off all the time and you don't get speed through the neutral (zone). It was great to play with Paul. It's been a long time since I've played with him. Unfortunately, we couldn't get away with a win, but we just have to keep on working and be back on Monday."
On what can be done to better their chemistry...
"It's just going to take a couple practices. Unfortunately, that's a lot of games right now and practice tomorrow, right into the game again on Monday. Just getting to know the guys, it's the first time. I'm happy to be here. Unfortunately, we didn't get away with a win, but just getting to know the guys, and just being around here and playing game, and practicing, it shouldn't take too long."
On whether distractions were part of the loss...
"Maybe a little bit. I was packing all day yesterday and stuff like that, coming in late, and not really skating this morning. It was a little tough the past couple of days, but no excuses on Monday; we should be ready to go."
MINNESOTA HEAD COACH JACQUES LEMAIRE
On the overall game...
"We played a pretty good game. They were not at their best, they missed a lot of passes around our net."
"We played smart."
On Gaborik's goal...
"The goal Gabby [Gaborik] scored there on the power-play, the power play wasn't going well for the last two that we had they weren't shooting the puck it's that simple. We scored on the first one. After we stopped shooting, so we didn't get any chances."
On the improved play of the defense corps...
"Often we will be unhappy of the certain plays that we're making on defense but tonight we were really good."
On the play of Wes Walz...
"Wes probably played the best game of the season. Tonight he was steady, doing everything at the right time. He was really focused on what we asked him to do."
MINNESOTA FORWARD BRIAN ROLSTON
On the winning power-play goal...
"They pressure down ice and they have a good penalty killing unit. You just have to take it and take a breath especially when they are coming at you and be patient with the puck."
On the win...
"It was a huge win for our team. That win should give us a lot of confidence as a team especially playing against a good, good hockey time like they have over there."
On using Nashville as a measuring stick...
"Obviously there is a lot of hype with Forsberg being here. They have a lot of skill that team over there. We played it tight. I don''t think we gave them a whole lot."
MINNESOTA FORWARD PIERRE-MARC BOUCHARD
On the penalty-shot goal...
"The only thing I had in mind was to get in an angle and after that try to read what he was going to do. I made a fake shot and he opened up."