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Predators snap Wild’s winning streak with 3-2 shootout win

NHL: Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

The big talk coming into the game was about the Wild’s short, and seemingly unfair, turnaround from Saturday night’s game into the second of a back-to-back in St. Paul to face the rested Nashville Predators. Honestly, aside from some puck management problems, the Wild kept up with the speed of the game just fine and even had a lead after a a two goal period. But while the Wild secured a massive point in the standings, Ryan Johansen’s shootout winner was the difference.

The pace was fast at the start with the Wild dictating it early. Jusse Saros was forced to make a tricky save early. Nashville struck first when Nick Bonino got the benefit of a friendly carom from a Wayne Simmonds shot. Alex Stalock ne’er had a chance on the play. It was Simmonds’ first point as a Predator.

From that point on the Wild mostly controlled play at 5-on-5. Stalock also had to be brilliant. His best work came in the second period when the Wild gave up odd-man rushes to the Preds like it was going out of style. He stopped 18 shots in the second period alone. He stood tall and finished with 41 saves on 43 shots faced for the game.

Minnesota finally helped out their goaltender when Eric Fehr got a turnover in the neutral zone, split the Nashville defense and ripped a shot over the glove and under the crossbar. Just 2:47 later, Ryan Suter set up Jason Zucker in the slot to take a 2-1 lead. It was an impressive final few minutes of the second period by the home team.

The third period was all about holding on. Former Pred Kevin Fiala had so many opportunities to dagger his old team. He drew a penalty, had four shots on goal, and looked good alongside Zach Parise and Eric Staal. He just couldn’t finish.

Mikeal Granlund made his first visit back to Xcel Energy Center since getting trade for Fiala. He had three shots on goal of his own, and was stymied by Stalock in a late third period power play. The Wild paid a nice tribute to him in the first period.

The Wild ended up killing both power plays and have for the first time in what seems like the entire month of February did not give up a power play goal against. However, as soon as Minnesota killed off the late Joel Eriksson Ek holding penalty and poor line change allowed Filip Forsberg to enter the zone easily. After a nice passing play, Forsberg ended up putting the rebound away to tie the game.

In overtime the Wild got exactly zero shots on goal, but they came close with Ryan Donato ripping a couple chances over just past the post. Stalock even tried his bid for an assist when he sprung a 2-on-1 for Luke Kunin and Parise. Kunin’s pass to Parise was just out of reach and didn’t connect.

A shootout was needed to decide the game.

Donato and Fiala failed to score. Parise scored to extend the shootout, and Ryan Johansen ended the game. Stalock tried to protest the Johansen winner by saying his pad was pushed into the goal, which it was, but not enough to be considered consequential.

The Wild’s 5-game winning streak was snapped. Ryan Donato’s point streak has come to an end. Minnesota plays the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday.