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There's losing, and then there is whatever the hell the Wild did tonight.
The game started out, and played out, exactly as expected for 51 minutes and 45 seconds. The Wild opened the scoring on a goal from Dany Heatley, originally (incorrectly) credited to Zach Parise. When the scorers changed the goal to Heatley, they gave Parise an assist. Apparently, for standing near a goal entering the net. The predators answered relatively quickly, from something named Nik Spaling, who now has 5 goals in 9 games against the Wild, and just 14 in 174 games otherwise.
The game settled down after that, and the second period permitted everyone and their sister to rest up for the third period. If you were wearing a red sweater tonight, it is likely that you never woke up.
The third period would start as a hockey game, but would finish as an absolutely gong show. At the 11:45 mark, the Wild coughed up the puck in the neutral zone, and left Martin Erat all alone to chase the puck. Niklas Backstrom came out to play the puck and (cue Benny Hill theme) misplayed the puck, allowing Erat to score as Jared Spurgeon rushed back too late.
That would have been enough, but after pulling Backstrom, Pierre-Marc Bouchard took an ill advised slashing call, moving the face off back to the Wild's end with just 23.8 seconds left. The Wild wouldn't get a chance to pull Backstrom again, but it wouldn't matter, as Tm Gilbert coughed up the puck and left 3 Predators to have their way. David Legwand capped off a great game from the Predators to finish out at 3 -1.
All in all, the Predators played a complete game. They made few mistakes on the wrong end of a back to back with travel. The Wild played like a team coached by Todd Richards, and looked lost for most of the game.
The Wild head to Detroit, for a game against the Red Wings on Friday. Even with their depleted blue line, the Red Wings will make quick work of the team that showed up tonight.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Nik Spaling (1G, 1A)
2. Chris Mason (25 saves)
3. Martin Erat (1G)
- Can Ryan Suter find his game against his old mates? Not even close. Needs to find it soon.
- Does the phenom get back on the board? Nope. Save for one good chance, he was fairly invisible tonight.
- Who scores first: Mikko Koivu or Shea Weber? Neither tonight. Sad, really.
- Still waiting for that fourth line goal. Is it tonight? Yep. Wrong team, though.
- Do the Wild capitalize on a tired Predators team? Ha! Good one.