Freefalling Minnesota Wild Lose Again, Nashville Predators Win


Final. 1. 98. 3. 151

Minnesota wild head coach Mike Yeo said it best in his post game press conference, “When you’re losing the way we are, everything is an issue.”

A talent laden Wild team lost its fourth straight tonight, falling 3–1 to the Nashville Predators at the Xcel Energy Center. I’ve said it before, but the Wild season is in serious jeopardy if not already over. With just 41 games remaining for the wild in the regular season, 26 Wins are necessary to assure a spot in the playoffs. Charlie Coyle had the lone tally for the Minnesota Wild, coming early in the first.

Another sub par performance by veteran goaltender Niklas Backstrom leaves me wondering what the wild can do to salvage the season. It certainly seems that training for a goaltender could increase their chances; however, the Wild need an awful lot of help.

First Period:
The Wild pressured goaltender Pekka Rinne early and often, with Zach Parise nearly converting in the first minute. Rinne got a little help from his best friend the goal post. Shortly after that, Rinne had to scramble and crawl to deny Nino Niederrieter. I’m not quite sure how he stopped Niederreiter’s backhand tip-in attempt, because the puck looked to slide under his backside.

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A soft, avoidable goal put the Predators on the board first. Colin Wilson beat Jonas Brodin and Ryan Suter along the boards, turned and centered a pass for Mike Fisher in the slot. Fisher skated a few strides and fired a backhander over a diving Backstrom’s blocker to make it 1-0 Predators at 04:01 of the first period. Backstrom read Fisher’s shot just a bit too late.

The Wild went to its first power play in the 8th minute. Managing just one shot on goal thanks to Thomas Vanek, the Wild’s power play looked downright lifeless after playing well against Chicago.

With 6 minute to go in the first. Charlie Coyle put the Wild on the board and tied the game. Niederreiter hustled down the ice to beat an icing, fought off a defender, and passed off for Christian Folin at the blue line. Folin’s shot bounced off of Rinne and landed in front of Coyle, who tipped home his 4th of the year to make it 1-1 tie at 14:14 of the first period. I think the goal is completely on Niederreiter, who showed his best hustle in a few weeks on the play.

Ryan Carter and Paul Gaustad dropped the gloves just after the goal, with Carter receiving a few cheap shots. Both Carter and Gaustad earned 5-minute majors for fighting.

Parise and Vanek had a 2-on-1 break with around 3 minutes left. Parise broke free and crashed the net, catching a beautiful pass from Vanek on the way, but Parise couldn’t unlock Rinne. By the way, Rinne was Backstrom’s back-up when they both played in Finland. Funny how things change, eh?

At the end of the first, Vanek found himself on a breakaway with Shea Weber hot on his trail. With Parise trailing and Rinne staring him in the face, Vanek opted for a between the legs no-look pass intended for Parise. The pass was broken up and Parise was unable to get a shot away. The more I watch this play, the more I agree with Vanek’s decision to pass here. Parise wouldn’t make the net in time for the rebound and Weber was breathing down his neck.

Shots after one period: Nashville Predators 8, Minnesota Wild 14

Second Period:

Pretty boring second period, honestly. The Wild had 3 power plays in the second. The first was negated by a Parise high-sticking. The second never quite clicked, and the third was downright atrocious.

One nice moment came when Rinne, who gave the Wild their 4th power play of the night by high-sticking Jason Zucker, skated over to chat with Zucker. From the stories I’ve heard, I imagine he was apologizing. Nice guy.

Minnesota native and former Wild Matt Cullen fell awkwardly in to the boards about midway through the second. He looked sore, but returned later.

Lots of shoving matches in the second, including one at the end of the second period that led to Folin and Wilson taking coincidental minors to start the 3rd period.

Shots after two periods: Nashville Predators 17, Minnesota Wild 23

Third Period:

The Wild iced the puck twice in a row to open the third period. On the second icing, Predators youngster Calle Jarnkrok put the Predators back on top. Shea Weber fired a rocket that hit Olli Jokinen on its way to the net. Jokinen took a quick wrister that bounced off Backstrom’s leg pad and landed in front of Jarnkrok. From there, Jarnkrok fired a shot that Backstrom couldn’t catch with his trapper. 2-1 Predators at 03:48 of the third period.

Mikko Koivu really came alive in the third, firing two quality chances at Rinne.

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  • Wilson, who assisted on Fisher’s 1st period goal, sealed the game for the Preds. Justin Falk lost control of the puck trying to spin off a check near the end wall. the puck landed perfectly in front of Wilson who beat Backstrom with a backhander through his 5-hole. 3-1 Predators at 08:47 of the third period. 

    Presumptive Calder winner Filip Forsberg ran in to Backstrom in the 11th minute, sending the Wild back to its lifeless power play with a chance to close the gap. The Wild didn’t score, putting them zero for five on the power play for the night.

    Matt Cooke and Shea Weber got in to a fight, if you can call it that. Weber, who towers over Cooke, won the fight cleanly

    With 2 minutes left, Nate Prosser and Mike Fisher also had a fight. Fisher won, meaning the Wild even went 0-3 on the fight card. Tough night for the hometown squad.

    Final Shots on goal: Nashville Predators 27, Minnesota Wild 37

    Trembley’s Take:

    It’s getting hard to stay optimistic, folks. The Wild had 37 shots on goal and 64 scoring chances. Dominating puck possession, they still lost. Outshooting their opponent by 10, they still lost. Winning the majority of face-offs, they still lost. This is a team that should win games cleanly, but never does.

    Backstrom isn’t completely to blame for the first goal, as Fisher was unprotected in front of the net. That being said, Backstrom’s 0.889 save percentage tonight was horrendous.

    Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder, and Charlie Coyle made up the 3rd line tonight. They all had corsi-for percentages greater than 66%, finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively. Statistically speaking, Schroeder should stay up for a bit.

    I’m curious for your thoughts, fans. Should the Wild salvage what they can from this season and vie for a good draft spot or make a bold trade and try to sneak in to the playoffs? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’m still pretty sold that a goaltender is all this team needs. Maybe a 5th defenseman, too.

    Our Minnesota Wild take on the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center tomorrow night. Talk to you then!