If there's any real way to describe the game in Nashville, especially the first period, it would be described as a Chinese Fire Drill. Lots of running around for no apparent reason, and the whole thing just looks stupid. The Predators came into the game looking to kick-start their recent scoring problems. And the Wild obliged in giving the Preds a total of five power plays, including two sets of 5-on-3 advantages, so that the Preds didn't have to do any real bit of defending of their own goal.
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Filip Forsberg tipped a Shea Weber shot past Dubnyk just 46 seconds into the game. Nashville took advantage of some awful turnovers in the Wild's end and kept the pressure on for long stretches of time. Minnesota didn't get its first shot on goal until after the 8-minute mark of the period. Jason Zucker would get that shot and after getting hooked by Ryan Ellis on the play, he was awarded a penalty shot. Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped the Zucker back-hander with his glove to keep Minnesota off the board. It was an interesting call for the penalty shot, as the Wild have seen two penalty shots called in as many games. Had the two minute minor been called, maybe, just maybe, the Wild could have settled into its game a bit earlier.
That not being the case, the Preds kept forcing the issue in Minnesota's end. Jared Spurgeon checked James Neal at the Wild blue line, but it was called interference. On the same penalty kill, Ryan Carter deflected a puck over the glass for a delay of game call. The Wild was able to kill the first minor, but when Chris Porter needed to replace a broken stick, another Wild player jumped on the ice by mistake and they were called for Too Many Men, giving the Predators another 5-on-3 power play. This time, Mike Ribeiro found the back of the net on a Shea Weber point shot. The Wild needed intermission in the worst way.
The second period was more of the same. James Neal took advantage of a cheating Devan Dubnyk and found the small space between the goaltender and the left post. It looked like the Wild were down and out for good. Then 43 seconds later Zach parise was denied on a breakaway, but the puck ended up being kept in the zone and circled over to Marco Scandella on the right point. Scandella's shot was tipped in by Parise to cut the lead to two. More undisciplined play, this time by Jarret Stoll taking a diving call helped kill any bit of momentum the Wild could have, or might have, tried to take late in the period. There was a 2-on-0 break for Nashville, but Dubnyk was able to make the stop. As bad as the Neal goal was, the rest of Dubnyk's game was very good.
In the third period, the Wild would try to make a comeback, but that goal that would even make it seem possible wouldn't come until 8:35 into the frame. Mikko Koivu won a faceoff that ended up in Jason Zucker's feet. Zucker gained control and shot it over the glove of Rinne. After the Wild finally got some pressure and even a power play midway through the period. Both power play units had decent zone time, but the first unit had the best chance. After a shot filtered down into the slot and on to Thomas Vanek's stick, he attempted a no-look pass to the right circle for Parise, but Parise couldn't handle the puck. If he had been able to settle the puck down, he had a wide open 4x6 opening to shoot into.
Minnesota pulled the goaltender with 1:37 remaining, but couldn't find the equalizer. After going 6-0-3 since the start of December, and a stretch in which the Wild seemed to re-focus on the defensive side of things, this game was anything but a defensive show from Minnesota's perspective. Tough to find much positives out of a game like that. The PK was 4-for-5, Jason Zucker and Zach Parise each found the net and that's always a good thing. More ugliness though, as the Wild gave up 39 shots, Ryan Suter saw over 30 minutes of ice time, Marco Scandella was out with an upper body injury for the final half of the first period before returning to action. That Scandella injury may be something to watch into next week.