Jason Zucker Leads Minnesota Wild Past Nashville Predators


151. 4. 98. Final. 2

A 2-goal night by Jason Zucker and 32 saves by Darcy Kuemper helped the Minnesota Wild overcome a 2-goal deficit. With the win, the Minnesota Wild has now tied an NHL record with the 2005-2006 Detroit Red Wings for most consecutive road victories in a single season at 12.

Good Morning, Minnesota Wild fans. Sorry I missed you guys after the Chicago game, but Tyler did an excellent job in my absence. If you haven’t checked out his post-game blog, have a look. On to tonight’s action, and we’ve got plenty to discuss. I honestly can’t think of the last time Darcy Kuemper and Jason Zucker were both a huge part of my game recap. Jason Zucker is showing ZERO signs of injury while Kuemper looked to shake the rust off fairly quickly after surrendering two goals in the first 11 minutes. Mikko Koivu also picked up his 500th career point (all with the Wild.) Alright, let’s get to my notes.

First Period:

Playing without 3 of its top-6 forwards, the Wild struggled to get going a bit. That said, the Wild has struggled to find its game early in the last 4 games. Kuemper looked a bit uncomfortable in the crease, but he hadn’t played since January.

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Rookie Sensation Filip Forsberg opened the scoring in the second minute. Taking in a long outlet pass from Cody Franson, Forsberg got around Jason Zucker, Ryan Suter, and Koivu before firing off a huge slapshot. The puck took an odd hop off the ice before sneaking past Kuemper to make it 1-0 Predators at 02:58 of the first period.

A little later in the first, Seth Jones put the Preds up by a pair. After a dump-in by Craig Smith, the Predators simply out-muscled the Wild to the loose puck. Mikael Granlund lost an edge and fell to the ice along the boards where Mike Santorelli picked up the puck and fed Seth Jones, who let loose his own booming slapper that fluttered over the shoulder of Kuemper to make it 2-0 Predators at 10:29 of the first period. Looks like the rout is on, eh? Not so fast, kids.

Marco Scandella took the game’s first penalty at 15:54 by slashing Taylor Beck’s stick in half. The Wild’s PK units killed the penalty without much of a problem. Matt Cooke, playing his first game back after having hernia surgery, looked great on the PK.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 6, Nashville Predators 8

Second Period:

There were probably a few missed calls in the second period, as the Minnesota Wild spent plenty of time in the offensive zone, but couldn’t get anything past Pekka Rinne. On the other end of the ice, Darcy Kuemper found a groove and made some incredible saves.

With just under 5 minutes left, Charlie Coyle drew a high sticking penalty, sending the Wild to its first power play.

Without most of their top scorers, the Wild power play took a different look. It was probably for the best though, as Jason Zucker nabbed his second goal in two games to keep the Wild in the game. With just a few seconds left on the power play,

Mathew Dumba

misfired on a one-timer that went wide.

Justin Fontaine

picked up the puck and sent a cross-ice pass over to an uncovered Zucker, who rifled home a one-timer from his knees to make it

2-1 Predators at 17:12 of the second period.

With that, Jason Zucker moved to 20 goals on the season and 4th on the team in goals scored.

Just 31 seconds later, Marco Scandella tied the game with a little spin-o-rama magic.

Jordan Schroeder

and Cooke cleared the defensive zone with a little speed before Cooke fed Scandella along the right-wing wall. Scandella spun his way past Forsberg and buried a forehand snapshot over the right shoulder of Rinne to make it a

2-2 tie at 17:43 of the second period.

Scandella’s 10th goal of the year went in and out of the net so dang fast I had to watch the replay about 10 times to believe it myself.

Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 21, Nashville Predators 17

Third Period:

Chris Stewart, held quiet for much of the game took a coincidental minor with Paul Gaustad just 33 seconds in to the game. The Predators played much better 4-on-4 hockey than the Wild, but Kuemper completely stood on his head.

With 5 minutes left, Mikael Granlund took a hi-sticking penalty that the Wild also killed with ease. Matt Cooke even had a few shorthanded tries.

Jason Pominville netted the eventual game winner with just over 2 minutes to play. Granlund won an offensive zone draw and sent the puck to Jared Spurgeon while forwards set up for the attack. Spurgeon fed Pominville in the slot, and the slumping sniper buried home his 19th of the season with a clean slapshot to make it 3-2 Wild at 17:57 of the third period.

The Predators pulled Rinne in favor of an extra attacker with just about 2 minutes left to play, and Zucker used the empty net to put home his second goal of the night to make it 4-2 Wild at 19:00 of the third period. Chris Stewart grabbed the primary assist and Mikko Koivu took the second assist. with the second assist, Koivu earned his 500th career point. More on that in a second.

Final Shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 27, Nashville Predators 34

Trembley’s Take:

There’s something about the end of the regular season for the Wild. They just keep finding ways to win, and last night was no exception. I though Kuemper played a tremendous game after the first two goals and the Wild battled incredibly well in front of him. I saw the sentiment on social media that Kuemper should’ve been pulled, but he proved a lot of people wrong with his play in the crease.

12 straight road wins is something incredibly special. The Wild has a chance to set an NHL record on Saturday, and I legitimately think they can do it.

With 21 goals, Zucker is tied with Thomas Vanek for 3rd on the team in goals scored, but consider this. Zucker has only played 50 games while it took Vanek 79. Zucker is growing by leaps and bounds, which will only serve to benefit the Wild going forward.

Congratulations to Mikko Koivu on 500 career points. He’s the first Wild player ever to reach that milestone, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Captain.

Talk to you Saturday. Thanks for reading!

Next: Dylan Labbe Signed to ELC

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