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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 6, Predators 4

Emotional comeback against Nashville extends Wild win streak to four

by Kayleigh Jackson / Wild.com

Wild.com's Kayleigh Jackson gives three takeaways from the Wild's 6-4 win against the Nashville Predators at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:

1. After morning skate Thursday, Dubnyk said he expected the game to be emotional. He was right. 

Minnesota's own Nostradamus predicted tensions would flare in Thurday's Central Division matchup, and flare they did. The teams picked up a collective 16 penalty minutes and exchanged 29 hits.

However, the most meaningful emotional impact came not from after-the-whistle scrums but rather from the Wild's late-game drive -- four goals in the final seven minutes, including three in a 4:01 span of the third period. Minnesota (9-7-2) erased 3-0 and 4-2 deficits en route to its fourth straight victory.

"I think it proves in sports you have to play with emotion," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I mean, the last 25 minutes, we were emotionally into it, and it's amazing what emotion does. The first 35 minutes we weren't, and it showed."

But beyond getting two points in regulation against its divisional rival, there were other benefits Boudreau wanted his team to take away.

"It shows that you can come back, and when you play with emotion you can come back," Boudreau said. "It shows great character to be able to come back and all of a sudden do that, it makes ... the team believe that they're capable of doing it."

Once the Wild ensured the win with a Jason Zucker backhand at 17:05 of the third period and an empty-net goal from Jared Spurgeon moments later, players were eager to give credit where they said credit's due -- to team leadership, to the opponent, to each other, to the fans at Xcel Energy Center.

"It was unbelievable at the end," forward Nino Niederreiter said with a smile. 

Video: NSH@MIN: Zucker rips home backhander for lead 

2. Devan Dubnyk's franchise-record shutout streak ended just 49 seconds into Thursday's game. 

Dubnyk was nearing 200 minutes without allowing a goal, but the Predators' Ryan Johansen would prevent him from elongating his personal record. Just 49 seconds into the opening stanza, Nashville's first-line center whipped a tough-angle shot past the Wild goaltender. 

However, the Predators (10-6-2) outshot the Wild 14-8 in the first stanza, and several key saves from Dubnyk kept his team in the game early on. 

Video: NSH@MIN: Dubnyk flashes the glove on Ekholm

"That was arguably one of the worst starts we had this year," said Zucker, whose team trailed 3-0 after a period and 4-2 following Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson's goal 57 seconds into the third. "We didn't play our game, we weren't doing the right things, we were being a little too fancy turning pucks over and they capitalized on a lot of them." 

Dubnyk and his teammates bounced back, especially in the third period. Once the late offensive surge came, the Wild barely allowed the Predators into their offensive zone, let alone to take any shots on goal.

"I was just standing there and watching the guys go to work," Dubnyk said. "I've seen it many times before, and it's always impressive to watch the guys work like they did. I'm pretty sure it was the last TV timeout, the last time I got a shot." 

3. Two of the Wild's six goals came on the power play, which was a welcome change. 

The Wild's power play entered the night ranked 26th in the NHL, and indeed had a rocky start after allowing a short-handed goal by Mattias Ekholm and failing to capitalize on a 5-on-3.

However, Nino Niederreiter scored with just 39 seconds left in the second period to pull the Wild within one, and he did so on the man advantage. That put a little spring back in the Wild's step, especially after another goal from Niederreiter had been overturned approximately two minutes earlier. 

"We knew we had to make a push," Niederreiter said. "We just kind of stuck to the process and I got the next one and after that it just kept on going."

Video: NSH@MIN: Niederreiter nets slick power-play goal

With 12:11 left in the game, Nashville's Miikka Salomaki took a seat in the penalty box. While the Wild couldn't convert, its power play units spent a majority of the time in the opponent's zone.

By Nashville's fifth penalty of the night, the Wild power play had found a rhythm. Eric Staal tied things up with 4:59 remaining in the game as Ryan Johansen sat in the box for hooking. 

Video: NSH@MIN: Staal ties the game on the power play

"You just feel like it's gonna come," Staal said of the tying goal. "Everyone on the bench and probably the people watching, you just feel like you're gonna get that break and that chance and it's gonna go in."

That isn't to say it was an easy process; following a 5-on-3 that Zucker called "jumbled," both the Wild's original power play units were confined to the bench.

"You cant keep throwing the same group out if they're not going to have some success," Boudreau explained. "It gets them really mad at you, and then they go out and play… it woke the power play up, and they got two goals." 


Loose pucks

• The Wild's team shutout streak ended at 181 minutes, 20 seconds -- just shy of the franchise record of 184 minutes, 59 seconds.

• On Nashville defenseman Roman Josi's goal early in the second period, Bruce Boudreau made his first coach's challenge at home this season, though the call on the ice ultimately stood. 

• For the third time in four games, Zucker scored the game-winning goal for the Wild.

• Jared Spurgeon's second-period goal was later credited to Ryan Suter, who deflected Spurgeon's shot past Rinne. 

Video: NSH@MIN: Suter tallies off Spurgeon's shot

Matt Dumba scored his first goal of the season to get the Wild on the board. 

Video: NSH@MIN: Dumba fires one-timer past Rinne

• Dubnyk made 26 saves on 30 shots while Rinne made 30 on 35 shots.

• Ten different Wild players scored at least a point, led by Staal and Spurgeon with three apiece.

• Thursday's result snapped a five-game win streak for Nashville.

• Attendance: 18,888 


He said it

"We started playing the way we know we can, we got a little more aggressive, we got a little bit more of our legs into it and it resulted in more zone time down there and more offensive looks and opportunities. That was fun." -- Wild forward Eric Staal 


They said it

"I think we just got a little too comfortable. We had a great first period, did a lot of good things and we had to continue playing like that and we let off the gas and you can't do that in this League." -- Predators forward Ryan Johansen


Three stars

* Jared Spurgeon

** Eric Staal

*** Marcus Foligno

Video: Zucker, Wild complete late comeback against Predators

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