The Nashville Predators did what they had to do in a 2-1 shoot-out win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at the Bridgestone Arena. The two points moved them back into fourth place in the Western Conference and gave them 100 points on the season for the fourth time in franchise history.
Alexander Radulov was the only scorer in the shoot out to ice the victory and become further endeared by the Predator faithful.
The game was marred by poor ice conditions, caused by temperatures in the eighties and unseasonably humid conditions in Smashville. Neither team was able to generate any free-flowing offense throughout as stick-handling was a rare commodity. There were few shifts that did not include players tumbling to the ice surface.
The game was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation with the only goals coming from a great steal and feed by Nick Spaling to Gabriel Bourque and a nifty redirect by Dany Heatley, both coming in the second period.
There was an extended delay in the opening period for a review of a play that was not ruled a goal for the Predators by either the on ice officials or the war room in Toronto.
The Predators continued to take an abundance of penalties, picking up six minor infractions compared to the Wild's three. The most back-breaking penalty of the lot was Andrei Kostitsyn being called for tripping with 12 seconds left in regulation, putting the Preds short-handed for the first 1:48 of overtime.
It was a difficult game to watch with plenty of turnovers and the high skill players being limited by the ice conditions.
That being said, Anders Lindback probably played his best game of the year, stopping 25 of 26 Wild shots and all three shootout attempts, earning first star of the game honors.
The Predators' third line combination of Spaling, Bourque, and Patric Hornqvist was outstanding at both ends of the ice. Hornqvist had a team high five shots followed by Bourque with four.
Paul Gaustad was another bright spot as he continued to win face offs, going 13-8, including 11-6 in the defensive zone.
Full marks also go to the Niklas Backstrom and the entire Minnesota Wild team who were playing for pride and possible roster slots for next season and played the game as if it were playoff conditions.
The Predators will now face a desperate Dallas Stars team on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena before closing out the season in Colorado on Saturday night. While they are not mathematically eliminated, Dallas will need to win their final two games and get help elsewhere to make the playoffs.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass