The Minnesota Wild beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 at the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday night in the Twin Cities. It was the Predators third loss in a row but the team looked far better than the effort the prior night.
The game winning goal came late in the third period when Preds goalie Pekka Rinne fell when he was coming out to play the puck, allowing Cal Clutterbuck a shot at what was basically an empty net.
The Wild's other goals came from Dany Heatley and Kyle Brodziak while the Predators' goals came from Jordin Tootoo and Ryan Suter. Tootoo also had an assist for a two point night.
Josh Harding was the winner in goal stopping 23 of 25 Predator shots, while Rinne lost his third in a row giving up three goals on 30 Wild shots.
The Preds headed straight back to Nashville after the game where they will have Thanksgiving Day off. They will practice at 11 a.m. on Friday and then leave for Detroit at 2 p.m. and will hit the ice against the Wings at 6 p.m. CST on Saturday.
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Comments from the Couch...
Blake Geoffrion was the only scratch since the Preds are playing with a 21 man roster after Niclas Bergfors cleared waivers and was sent to Milwaukee.
In an oddity, 51 year old Paul Deutsch, started the game as back-up to Josh Harding as Niklas Backstrom was not available due to a family emergency. Matt Hackett arrived during the game and took Deutsch's place on the bench.
The Predators looked much better than they had 24 hours earlier when the went down 3-0 to the Edmonton Oilers in the opening period.
Marty Erat was called for hooking Mikko Koivu 1:55 into the game. It was offset by Clutterbuck, 27 seconds later who was also called for hooking Frankie Bouillon.
Tootoo score on a hustling play from the right corner 5:21 into the contest. Craig Smith and Nick Spaling had the helpers on the play.
Colton Gillies was called for boarding Brian McGrattan 2:12 into the period sending McGrattan to the locker room momentarily.
At 4:38, Bouillon was called for interference on Koivu.
Shortly after the Minnesota man advantage expired, Matt Cullen got a high stick into Mike Fisher's face drawing a 2 minute penalty. Sixty-eight seconds later, Colin Wilson was called for high-sticking on Gillies but was given a double minor, even though it appeared that Gillies lifted Wilson's stick into his own face.
At the end of the period, Rinne made the save of the game with nine seconds left on a shot from Dany Heatley.
At the start of the period, the Preds were caught with too many men deep and Shea Weber was the only defenseman covering a two on one break-away and Koivu passed the puck to Heatley who buried the puck at 1:05 to tie the game.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard was called for tripping Rinne at 1:43 to put the Predators on the man-advantage. The Preds had two shots and a post and Minnesota had a short-handed shot.
At 6:29, Craig Smith was called for goaltender interference for bumping Harding.
Suter was called for slashing Devin Setoguchi at 8:12. During the Wild power play, Cullen made a cross ice pass to Brodziak who put it past Rinne from just inside the right face-off circle.
Nick Johnson was called for boarding Jack Hillen at 12:20. The Wild picked up the short-handed goal by Clutterbuck at 13:19 when Rinne tripped and fell to the right of the Preds net.
A skirmish around the Wild net at 13:36 sent Patric Hornqvist, Nate Prosser, and Clutterbuck to the penalty box and giving the Predators 44 seconds of five on three advantage. At 13:57, Suter took a pass from Tootoo and buried the shot to cut the Wild lead to 3-2.
During the remaining man-advantage time, the Preds had a pair of quality shots but could not convert.
As time ticked down, the Predators had several chances but could not get the puck past Harding.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass