Pekka Rinne and the Predators extended their winning streak to six with a 5-1 victory over the Wild. Rinne made 25 saves, while Nick Spaling chipped in with two third period goals. Joel Ward also picked up two points in the win.
Nashville led off the scoring with David Legwand’s tally at the 7:03 mark of the first. His re-direction went through Jose Theodore’s five-hole. The goal was nicely setup by Marek Svatos.
After each team killed off a penalty, Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu tied the game at one apiece with a nifty backhander that fooled Rinne. The goal was essentially scored shorthanded (one second after Cam Barker’s penalty expired).
Ward quickly put the Preds back on top 2-1 at 1:02. A Jose Theodore gaffe allowed Ward to pocket the puck into a somewhat-empty net.
Minnesota swarmed Nashville’s net in the back half of the second period, but Rinne was up to challenge and turned away 12 shots in the period.
The Preds gained a killer instinct in the third period, scoring three times to win 5-1. Spaling scored twice; once on a lazy wrister that found its way past Theodore, and another in a wild flurry in the crease. The Wild pulled ‘Theo’ after the fourth goal at 10:39.
Marcel Goc wasted no time pouncing on backup Anton Khudobin. With 7:07 to go, Goc capitalized on a Cam Barker turnover and wristed home the Preds’ fifth and final goal.
Trotz’s club went 0-for-2 on the man advantage, but killed off all three of Minnesota’s power plays to improve their NHL-best penalty kill on home-ice.
Barry Trotz on the win streak and game…
“It’s pretty decent, yeah! We’re getting a lot of guys contributing. I thought the Smithson line tonight was huge. They not only shutdown the lines they were facing, which were pretty good offensive lines, and they also contributed offensively.”
Trotz on avoiding the letdown…
“I was concerned about this game, and I’m concerned about Florida. Obviously this game, the first game coming back, we could pat ourselves on the back for having a really good California trip and getting six points – we talked about that.”
Rinne on the game…
“It was a different kind of game (compared to recent games). They didn’t have that many chances and we kind of kept our game in order, played defense first. In the third period that paid off, we executed and that was the difference.”
Rinne on Spaling’s goals…
“It was great to see that! It was a great move by Trotzy putting him out there in the end – he was pretty close to scoring a hat trick. That was pretty cool. It’s great to see because he’s had a tough time – before he scored his first goal – he had a lot of chances. He’s a great player and I’m happy to see him score a few goals lately.”
Marek Svatos on setting up Legwand’s goal…
“We’ve been talking about it the last few games, with the guys driving the net and he (Legwand) got open there. He had his stick on the ice and I tried to hit it… he made a nice tip in.”
Joel Ward on avoiding the letdown…
“We just concentrated on today’s game. We were just staying focused about today’s task, who we were playing against, and executing what we had to do. We’re just going to try to take it day-by-day and game-by-game.”
Usually when teams head out west and go on a win streak (like the Preds just did), they return home and come out flat. They avoided that trap against a Minnesota team that had been playing some pretty good hockey of late. The Preds jumped out early, survived a second period in which the Wild sustained pressure, then put their foot on their throats in the third.
Nashville will travel to Florida on Thursday for another trap game, which precedes a gigantic home-and-home with the Blackhawks this weekend. If they can make it seven against the Panthers, it’ll set up a couple marquee games with their budding rival.