For the second time in as many nights, the Minnesota Wild lost 2-1 in extra time. Even though they’re losses, moral-victory points are pretty much welcomed at this time of year. Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss came on the road at the Central Division leader’s house in Nashville.
The Wild (42-24-10) played from behind from most of the game, after going down 1-0 just 2:51 into the first period on a Roman Josi blast from the point off a faceoff. Head coach Bruce Boudreau was pleased with his team’s effort to force the extra session.
“At this stage in the game, you’d love to have two, but one point’s a big point,” Boudreau said.
Eric Staal became only the second player in franchise history to score 40 goals in a season with his tying goal with 3:15 left in regulation. The milestone tally came on a nifty backhand shot past goaltender Pekka Rinne after a thread-the-needle feed from Mikael Granlund in the offensive zone.
Staal joins Marian Gaborik as the only two players to score 40 goals in a season while wearing a Wild sweater. Gaborik is the all-time franchise leader with 42 goals in 2007-08. Staal joins Gordie Howe as the only NHL players to score 40 goals in a season at least nine seasons apart -- with none in between.
Howe scored 44 goals in 1956-57 and 44 again in 1968-69. Staal has his highest goal total since he scored 40 in 2008-09. His career-high is 45, which he scored in 2005-06.
It was actually quite the feat that the Wild tied the game. They couldn’t generate much offense in the first couple periods, getting outshot 11-4 in the first period. The Wild only had 11 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes.
Boudreau said his team was waiting for the Predators to see how they would react at the start of the second period.
“When we get emotional about the game, I think we’re really good,” Boudreau said.
Credit goes to Devan Dubnyk for making the necessary saves in net. A second stick-tap to the Wild’s penalty kill, which went 4 for 4. The Wild took five minor penalties in the second period alone.
“It was a tough game,” Staal said. “There wasn’t a lot of room… we stayed with it all night.”
With the Staal goal tying things up at 1-1 at the end of 60 minutes, it looked like the Predators (49-16-11) ended things 40 seconds into overtime when Ryan Ellis scored, but the play was ruled offside with Kyle Turris heading into the zone early. The call went in favor of the Wild and negated Minnesota’s second loss in a row when the opponent scored less than a minute into overtime.
In the shootout, the Wild shooters -- Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu -- came up empty. Turris made up for his offside in overtime as he scored the lone, and thus game-winning, goal for the Predators.
Jordan Greenway played 10:01, including 50 seconds on the power play, and recorded a blocked shot in his NHL debut. Boudreau acknowledged that this was a tough game for a rookie’s first game in the league, but he was still pleased with the youngster’s effort.
“You see that he’s going to be a good player,” Boudreau said.
The Wild finish the season series with a 3-1-1 record against the Predators.
Dubnyk (32-14-7) with 28 saves on 29 shots. Rinne (41-11-4) with 22 saves on 23 shots.
The victory for the Predators snaps their three-game losing streak.
The Wild are 7-3-1 in their last 11 road games.
Granlund’s goal drought is up to 13 games. He rung the post in overtime.
Greenway officially became the 80th player all-time to make his NHL debut while playing for the Wild.
The Wild play a home-and-home series against the Dallas Stars, starting with a game Thursday night in St. Paul.
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