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Postgame Hat Trick: Predators 4, Wild 2

Nashville scores four unanswered, digs out of early two-goal hole

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-2 loss against the Nashville Predators at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday night:

1. It's seems almost weird when the Wild doesn't score in the first couple minutes of a game, as it did once again on Sunday.

Like it did 24 hours earlier against the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota struck early, getting on the board 2:18 into the contest when Mikael Granlund scored his first goal in 10 games. Don't confuse the goal drought with lack of production, however; the goal extended Granlund's point streak to seven games, establishing a new career long. 

Granlund leads Minnesota with 28 assists -- seemingly dishing out a highlight-reel helper nightly these days. This time, he was on the receiving end of a beauty from Zucker, camped out at the top of the right circle and one-touched a pass from Jordan Schroeder along the wall to Granlund going hard to the front of the net. 

Granlund did the rest, pulling the puck to his forehand around goaltender Pekka Rinne and sliding the puck inside the left post for his 10th goal.

Stick tap to Schroeder, filling in admirably for captain Mikko Koivu, who missed the game because of illness. Schroeder's work to dig the puck free along the right-wing halfwall started the whole play.

Video: Locker Room Postgame vs Nashville

"It was a lot of fun [playing on a line with Granlund and Zucker]," Schroeder said. "They're such highly-skilled players, they support the puck so well and move the puck so well. It was really fun to be a part of. Unfortunately we got the loss, but we'll have to put that behind us and move on."

2. Later in the first period, Jason Pominville made it 2-0 with a snipe from the top of the right circle. 

The goal extended the Wild's streak of scoring at least two goals to 30 games, the longest such streak in the NHL. The next closest active streak is 17 games (Toronto). Minnesota's 30-game streak is the fourth-longest in the NHL over the past decade.

For Pominville, it continued his rock solid play of late; the veteran winger now has points in three straight games with one goal and four assists during that stretch. Pominville also has nine points (2-7=9) over his past nine contests and is up to 23 points on the year.

Unfortunately for the Wild, it couldn't hold the lead.

"It was a good start, bad finish to the game," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "Didn't really follow up with much after starting off with a good game and a nice two-goal lead."

3. They say a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. It's proven true often over the last nine days.

Minnesota, playing for the sixth time in that nine-day stretch, has seen a two-goal lead disappear in all six of those games. Against Chicago last Sunday and versus Anaheim on Saturday, it was the Wild erasing said lead. This time, it was Nashville climbing out of its early two-goal deficit, getting a second-period goal from James Neal at 2:25 and a third-period tally from Filip Forsberg at 2:20. 

"Obviously, if we want to win a championship it's got to get better. You can't do that," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "You've got to be able to play with a lead. It's tough to play with a lead in this league. It's like prevent defense in football and it never seems to work. You've got to go after them and try to increase the lead rather than just hold the lead."

Forsberg added the game-winner with 6:36 remaining, firing a deflected shot past Darcy Kuemper from the left circle. Ryan Johansen added an empty-netter with 1:18 left in regulation. 

"When you give yourself a two-goal lead, you can't let them hang around," Parise said. "You have to get that third one and put them out of the game. And we weren't able to do that."

The Wild has played seven games in 11 nights overall and will hit the road for one game in Dallas on Tuesday and return home for a date with St. Louis on Thursday before getting a much needed three-day break for the All-Star Game.

Still, players and Boudreau were not using fatigue as an excuse after the game.

"I don't know if we ran out of gas. I don't want to use that as an excuse," Boudreau said. " Only one forward played more than 20 minutes. When we have other guys in the lineup, they've got to play. To me, it's as simple as that. When we make mistakes at crucial times, I mean, that's why we lost both games this week. It's because we make dumb mistakes in the third period and it cost us.

"You don't play to win. We are two feet from the red line on the third goal and we don't get it deep. Twenty seconds later, it's in our net and it's because of bad sort outs in our own zone and bad play off the faceoff play. We lose our structure. And it cost us. Even their first goal was a bad coverage in our zone."


Loose Pucks

• The victory was Predators coach Peter Laviolette's 500th as an NHL head coach.

• Kuemper finished with 28 saves.

• Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne earned the win with 21 saves

• Minnesota dropped to 2-1-0 against the Predators this season. The road team has won all three games.

• The Wild scored the first goal in all four games on the homestand.

Ryan Suter had one assist for his 30th point of the season. The Wild leads the NHL with seven players with at least 30 points.

• Granlund has six goals and 19 assists in 22 games since Dec. 7. His 21 points in 18 games since Dec. 15 is tied for the NHL lead during that stetch.

• Attendance: 19,087


He Said It

"We had a lot of pressure in the first, and it kind of tilted to us defending. I thought we defended well and defended hard. I don't think anyone left anything out there." --Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper 


They Said It

"We were slow getting out of the gate. I don't think that we were moving that fast. I blame part of it on myself. We were trying to make sure we were doing the right thing out there. The second period we kind of took the brakes off the players and got them moving and tried to play a much more aggressive game and that seemed to get us going in the right direction. We were able to go on the attack and stay in the offensive zone." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette


Three Stars

* Filip Forsberg

** Mikael Granlund

*** Jason Pominville

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