Another game, another chance for the Minnesota Wild to show how good they are at skating to the penalty box. They took five penalties and allowed a power-play goal in a 3-0 shutout loss in Nashville (23-10-5) on Saturday night.
“Well, I mean again, the last two games on the road you take 12 minors,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “It’s taken a lot of steam out of some of the offensive players. You could see that a little bit of fatigue was setting in.”
The Wild (20-16-3) had to kill off three penalties in the second period. Fortunately, the game remained scoreless through 40 minutes -- and just a 19-18 shots-on-goal margin for the Predators -- but the penalty killing seemed to take its toll on the Wild skaters.
It was the Wild’s fourth time being shutout this season, and second consecutive road game in which they lost 3-0. The Wild ended their recent four-game road trip with a shutout loss in Tampa, also with backup Alex Stalock in the net.
“I feel bad for Alex,” Boudreau said. “The last two road games, in very tough buildings, (Stalock) has stood on his head, and he’s not been rewarded for it.”
With the loss, Stalock fell to 0-3-0 in his three career starts versus Nashville.
It was one of those games when the longer it went without a goal, the more important the first goal became. The suspense in the third period didn’t last long; the Predators broke through at 2:23 of the period on a wraparound goal from Scott Hartnell, his fifth of the year.
“From what I recall, (Nick) Bonino shot the puck and Alex (Stalock) had to go outside the blue, and he couldn’t recover,” Boudreau said.
That was all they needed to win the game, though Predators defenseman P.K. Subban added his second goal in as many nights less than five minutes later on the power play for the 2-0 lead.
He also assisted on Viktor Arvidsson’s empty-netter with 2:20 left in the game.
The Wild couldn’t solve Nashville’s backup goaltender Juuse Saros, who earned the shutout in his first career game facing Minnesota.
Boudreau didn’t have a lot to say about the penalties the Wild keep taking game after game. The Predators went 1 for 5 on the power play, while the Wild came up empty on three man-advantage chances. Matt Dumba and Joel Eriksson Ek each went to the box twice, along with Mikko Koivu.
“It is frustrating,” Boudreau said. “But it continually happens.”
Imagine if the Wild’s penalty kill wouldn’t have been so successful throughout the season thus far. They’ve had to kill at least five penalties in 14 games this season. They’ve taken 171 penalties this season, ranking sixth in the NHL. In just nine of their 39 games have they had more power-play chances than their opponents.
The Wild couldn’t transfer their offensive magic from the previous night when Mikael Granlund scored a hat trick en route to a 4-2 victory over the Predators in St. Paul. The loss gives the Wild identical 2-4-0 records on each night of back-to-back series this season.
Stalock (7-8-1) with 26 saves. Saros (4-3-2) with 29 saves.
The loss marks the third in a row for the Wild on the road.
Defenseman Gustav Olofsson played after sitting as a healthy scratch for eight games. He had a scoring chance in the second period, had one shot on goal and blocked two shots.
The Wild finish the calendar year with a 46-32-7 record.
The Wild ring in 2018 with a home game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.