Howdy, State of Hockey Legion!
The Minnesota Wild is in Music City tonight to face the Nashville Predators for the season rubber match. Tonight marks the third and final meeting between these two teams, splitting the season series thus far with both games played at Xcel Energy Center.
This marks the first time the teams have met at Bridgestone Arena this year and will be first time Ryan Suter plays against his former team after signing with Wild in the offseason. He played seven seasons with the Predators and ranks fourth on Nashville’s all-time list in games played (542) and assists (200), tied for eighth in points (238), tied for third in power play assists (88) and second in plus-minus (+43).
Not only do the Wild have Suter, but also has another Ace up its sleeve in goaltender Niklas Backstrom. The netminder was relieved in the club’s last outing in Chicago, however, he is 19-2-4 all-time in games after being pulled (non-injury), posting a 1.94 GAA and .932 SV% in those contests.
The Wild also will get back forward Cal Clutterbuck. His physical presence will be on the wing with Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatley. Minnesota will also have the physical presence on the fourth line as Zenon Konopka will skate between Mike Rupp and Torrey Mitchell.
Out of the lineup as healthy scratches will be forwards Mikael Granlund and Pierre-Marc Bouchard and defenseman Nate Prosser. Goaltenders Darcy Kuemper (lower body) and Josh Harding (multiple sclerosis) are on Injured Reserve.
The Wild sports its road white sweaters, while the Preds wear the yellow Sabertooth head logo.
Follow tonight’s action via social media @mnwildLIVE.
Period 1 - MIN 0, NSH 0
It was a physical first period between the Wild and Pres, but there was no scoring.
The best chance of the game came off the stick of Charlie Coyle, who intercepted a Nashville pass and broke in on netminder Pekka Rinne. He chipped a shot with one hand off Rinne's glove and then the puck caught the crossbar.
It was a solid defensive period for the WIld, but I expect the team to pick up the offense in the next two periods.
Period 2 - MIN 1, NSH 0
The Wild played another solid road period, outshooting the Preds and also scoring the game's lone goal to this point.
Minnesota's power play continues to come around, scoring a goal in its third-straight game. Ryan Suter took a pass from Mikko Koivu at the point. The defenseman walked across the blue line, found space and fired a wrist shot towards the Preds' net. Zach Parise, who was screening Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne, got the shaft of his stick on the puck and tipped it past Rinne for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
The Wild led that period in shots, 8-6, and picked up its physical play as well. The club looks to close things out in the last 20 minutes.
Period 3 - MIN 1, NSH 1
The Predators evened things up in the final frame on the man advantage.
David Legwand scored his fifth goal of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn made a cross-ice pass, that Cal Clutterbuck read but couldn't corral and the puck bounced right onto Legwand's tape. The forward put the puck high over the glove of Niklas Backstrom. Shea Weber picked up the second assist on the goal.
That was the only goal of the period, so that means we're heading to overtime and the Wild earns at least a point.
Overtime - MIN 1, NSH 1
The Wild had a great opportunity in overtime after Rinne played the puck outside of the trapezoid and was called for a penalty. On the power play, Devin Setoguchi had the best chance for the Wild as he blasted a one-timer off Rinne and then the post.
Shootout - MIN 2, NSH 1
Parise was up first and made a forehand move that Rinne makes.
Bourque tries a backhand move but Backstom makes a pad save.
Koivu swings wide and goes backhand, five-hole on Rinne.
Smith with a slowdown move and beats Backstrom with a backhand.
Cullen uses the slowdown technique and finds the five-hole on Rinne.
Legwand rings the post and the Wild are your winners in the shootout.
We'll see you all back here tomorrow as the Wild hosts the Canucks at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. Remember to move your clocks forward for daylight savings.