Minnesota Wild Pull Off Upset, Beat The Nashville Predators 4-2


4. 98. Final. 2. 151

The Minnesota Wild pulled off a good old-fashioned upset over the Nashville predators at Bridgestone Arena tonight. In what turn to be a freewheeling fast-paced hockey game, Nino Niederreiter’s gorgeous 2nd period tally prove to be the game-winner.

Good morning, Minnesota Wild fans. Playing a patient, defensively sound game paid dividends for the Wild. The 4th line, now featuring Justin Fontaine, combined for 2 goals and 5 points despite tough match-ups against the presumptive President’s Trophy winners. Nino Niederreiter added 2 goals, including an empty-netter, to help seal the victory. Don’t forget to check out Dustin’s coverage of the roster moves for the struggling Iowa Wild.

First Period:

The Wild struggled to get out of its own end for much of the first period, getting outshot 5-2 in the early goings. They were out-chanced by a far bigger margin. The Wild also had trouble gaining the offensive zone. The Wild’s entry scheme usually works for them, but they play a very similar style to the Predators, who kept them locked out for much of the first.

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  • The Wild earned the game’s first chance with on the power play in the 5th minute. They registered two shots on goal while fervently chasing the puck back to their own end, but it did open the door for the Wild to gain more zone time.

    Zach Parise, Mathew Dumba, and Niederreiter were all denied in the following minutes, until a little 4th line magic opened the scoring.

    Starting in their defensive zone, the 4th line started an end-to-end rush led by the speedy

    Erik Haula

    . Haula entered the offensive zone and got tied up along the boards before feeding Fontaine near the extended goal line. As Fontaine shook off

    Mike Ribeiro

    , Haula put himself in position at the top of the slot. Fontaine sent the puck to Haula who wound up and fired a huge one-timer that flew over the Left shoulder of goaltender

    Pekka Rinne

    to make it

    1-0 Wild at 17:35 of the first period.

    Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 10, Nashville Predators 9

    Second Period:

    Nashville was only 5-10-1 this season when trailing after the first period. While that’s true, they certainly made the case for a comeback just 00:16 in.

    After Mikko Koivu couldn’t win the face-off cleanly, Nashville was free to cycle through the offensive zone. Mattias Ekholm picked off a Jonas Brodin clearing attempt and sent it Matt Cullen. Cullen feigned a wraparound bid and fed Mike Fisher, who was unguarded and camped out in the between the two face-off dots. Cullen put a big slap shot on goal that hit the cross, bounced off Devan Dubnyk’s back, and bounced off the goalpost before crossing the goal line to make it a 1-1 tie at 00:16 of the second period. Fisher was completely uncovered on this play, which is a little frustrating.

    Two minutes later, Fontaine zinged his own shot off the crossbar, but did not have the same puck luck.

    Niederreiter and Jordan Schroeder also had a couple of quality chances stopped by Rinne before the 4th line put the Wild back on top…. again.

    After Rinne gobbled up a shot by Charlie Coyle, Haula and company took to the ice for an offensive zone draw. Haula won the face-off and the puck slid right to Kyle Brodziak. Brodziak took one quick look before firing the still bouncing puck on net and past Rinne to make it 2-1 Wild at 07:12 of the second period. The oft scorned Brodziak’s slap shot blasted past Rinne so fast that I still can’t figure out where it went through


    Craig Smith tied the game for Nashville just over a minute later with a pretty breakaway goal. Fisher shook Koivu off the puck along the boards in the Wild’s offensive end and flipped a pass up to Smith near the center red line. Dumba and Marco Scandella were split just a little too wide to catch the forward in stride. Smith cut hard to Dubnyk’s left side and wristed the puck home to make it a 2-2 tie at 08:31 of the second period.

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  • Did I mention this was a fast-paced game? It sure was, because Niederreiter put the Wild in the lead just a minute later and never looked back.


    Ryan Ellis

    put  a shot right in to the


    of Dubnyk,

    Christian Folin

    picked off the rebound and fed

    Jordan Schroeder

    along the right-wing wall. Schroeder, Niederreiter, and Coyle broke a 3-on-2 rush against Ellis and

    Seth Jones

    . Schroeder dropped a pass for Coyle in the slot and Coyle pushed the puck up ice and right on to the stick of Niederreiter at the goal mouth. From there, Niederreiter put a wrister high on the blocker side of Rinne to make it

    3-2 Wild at 09:48 of the second period.

    Niederreiter’s 20th goal of the season was an absolute beauty, even making SportCenter’s top 10 plays of the night. I’ll talk about Nino more a little later.

    The Wild and Predators exchanged power play chances to end the second. Both teams were held to one shot on goal with the man advantage. This is pretty impressive for the Wild’s penalty kill, considering how many weapons the Predators have.

    Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 20, Nashville Predators 17

    Third Period:

    After a few quick chances by the Wild early, including a Scandella slap shot, Devan Dubnyk got very busy, turning away chance after chance by the pressuring Predators.

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    Mikael Granlund, who had the Wild’s first penalty, sent Nashville back to the power play. Once again, the Wild’s penalty kill unit stepped up in a huge way and held Nashville to one shot on goal.

    Three icings in just over 2 minutes didn’t help the Wild alleviate Nashville’s zone pressure before Rinne went to the bench with about 2:40 left to go. The Wild performed admirably at 6-on-5 before Niederreiter put home an empty net goal from 166 feet away to make it

    4-2 Wild at 18:21 of the third period.

    Niederreiter’s second of the night came on a no-look clearing attempt after robbing

    James Neal

    of a loose puck in the low slot area.

    Game over, Wild win.

    Final shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 30, Nashville Predators 39

    Trembley’s Take:

    It’s extremely unusual to write about the Wild handing Nashville its 5th home loss of the season just 2 days after lamenting over Minnesota’s loss to the lowly Edmonton Oilers. I’m not complaining, but it just seems weird to me.

    This was a really fun game to watch. Both teams were competitive and the game was close up until the 3rd period. Devan Dubnyk and Pekka Rinne are two red-hot goalies, which made this one even more fun to watch.

    We’ve talked a lot about secondary scoring and needing all 4 lines to step up in a big way. How was this for ya? Brodziak and Haula each had 2 points while Parise, Koivu, and Sean Bergenheim were all held off the score sheet. That’s pretty cool.

    Speaking of Bergenheim, I thought he played a pretty good game. He led all Wild skaters with 4 shots on goal and had 2 hits in just over 13 minutes of ice time.

    The Wild is in a unique position with its 2nd and 3rd lines. Niederreiter, Coyle, and Schroeder are a great scoring trio, but play less ice time than Thomas Vanek, Granlund, and Jason Pominville. Now, asking the second line to play a more physical game isn’t the answer, but I really don’t know what is. Maybe it’ll come to me.

    Niederreiter has been streaky all season, but scoring 21 goals isn’t an easy feat. He’s also reliably registering a couple hits a night. He’s developing in to the power forward he’s built to be. I’ve said it before, and you can use the comment section to tell me how wrong I am, but Niederreiter will develop in to the Wild’s top goal scorer after the next few seasons.

    I’ll talk to you Saturday, when the Wild visit Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche at 9:00 p.m. Central time. Thanks for reading!