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Minnesota Wild plays patient defensive game; Beats Predators 4-2

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't going to be easy to beat the National Hockey League's best team on their home ice. The Minnesota Wild did just that. If you would have told me the Wild, who were the first team to score five goals on Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne, would score three and an empty-netter to hand the Predators its fifth home loss of the season, and those goals would be scored by fourth liners, I would have laughed you out the door.



Erik Haula, Kyle Brodziak, and Justin Fontaine combined for five points on the night including two goals.

The first period featured a ton of "Boo's" being hurled Ryan Suter's way and a lot of time in the Minnesota zone. It wasn't until the 17:35 mark when Erik Haula broke the scoreless tie with a shot from the blue line. The shot deflected past Rinne off of a Predator defenseman. The Wild held a 10-9 shot advantage but were getting badly out possessed in the first.

It took just 16 seconds into the second period for Mike Fisher to tie the game. He found a soft spot in the slot and ripped a shot that hit the post and then caromed in off the back of Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk. Minnesota and Nashville started trading some chances at each end, but the possession still favored the Predators. Charlie Coyle would get a fed a pass into the slot and subsequently get robbed by Rinne. On the ensuing faceoff, Haula won the faceoff cleanly to Brodziak, who fired from the left faceoff circle to give the Wild a 2-1 lead. A little over a minute later Craig Smith would get fed a pass from Fisher and get a step on Marco Scandella. Scandella tried leaning on him and tried to do everything to thwart Smith but not take a penalty. Smith roofed it over Dubnyk who came out to try  a poke check. After Dubnyk made a save that stung him a bit at one end, Jordan Schroeder led a 3-on-2 rush the other way. Schroeder fed Coyle wit ha cross-ice pass, who then one-touched a pass right to the slot where Nino Niederreiter was charging down the center lane for the 3-2 lead.

Nashville got two power play opportunities in the game - one was at the end of the second period that carried over to the third, and another that came with roughly 14 minutes remaining in the game. The Preds managed two

shots on goal combined in the four minutes of power play time. Kyle Brodziak was an animal with his stick work and pressuring the Predator defensemen at the point.

Niederreiter cleared the zone to relieve the pressure all the way into the vacant net because Laviolette decided to pull RInne with three minutes remaining. The Wild, who lost to the Western Conference bottom-feeding Oilers just a game ago, just beat the league's best team and clear President's trophy favorite.