By Amanda DiPaolo
The Predators were too much for the Minnesota Wild to handle on Tuesday night as Nashville continues to roll over the opposition winning their sixth in a row, 5-1.
Pekka Rinne improved to 13-10-4 and has now allowed only one goal in each of his last five starts. Jose Theodore picks up the loss for Minnesota and is 8-7-2 on the season. The duo of Rinne and Anders Lindback have allowed only 7 goals in the team’s last six starts and the Predators have scored 24 goals in those six games.
The Wild typically play well in Nashville with a 5-3-0 record in its last eight games in Music City and were 4-1-0 in their last five starts. The Wild also had a 10-3-3 record against teams that had won their previous match going into Tuesday’s game.
But it was Nashville that would continue its winning ways in front of a home crowd of 15 311 faithful, braving the winter weather conditions outside. Nashville got on the board at 7:03 into the game when David Legwand tipped in a shot by Marek Svatos. It was Svatos first assist as a Predator. Francis Bouillon picked up his ninth assist of the year on the play.
The Wild tied it up at the tail end of a Nashville power play. Cam Barker was in the box for holding. Joel Ward drew the penalty at 14:04. One second after the penalty expired, Mikko Koivu scored his eleventh goal of the season by skating around both Cody Franson and Francis Bouillon.
It didn’t take long into the second period before the Predators regained the lead. Joel Ward notched his fifth of the season just 1:02 into the middle frame. Kevin Klein and Marcel Goc picked up the assists.
There were no other goals scored in the second period, however the Predators had one power play opportunity and the Wild were given the man advantage twice, but no power play markers were scored.
The third period was all Nick Spaling. Just 4:18 into the third period Spaling got his third goal of the season by throwing a wrist shot from just below the blue line right passed Theodore to put the Predators up 3-1. It took the young forward 50 games to notch his first NHL goal on December 13th against the New York Islanders but has since picked up three more tallies.
Spaling picked up his fourth of the season and second of the third period with 9:21 left in the final frame by heading hard to the net, picking up a loose puck and putting it behind Theodore. Spaling says he hasn’t been doing anything different recently to account for his new found offense. “I think I got a couple of lucky bounces tonight, obviously, but I’m going to take them all.”
Theodore admitted he made mistakes. “I made a couple of mistakes and it cost us goals. Sometimes you get away with some mistakes as a goalie, but tonight, in the second, it was a bad rebound and I tried to clear it right to their guy. Those are the kinds of plays I can’t make. Obviously, we are fighting for a playoff spot and I expect myself to be better if we want to have a chance to make the playoffs.”
Nashville chased Theodore out of the Wild’s net after the second Spaling goal. Last week, Theodore was named the NHL’s third star of the week, going 4-0-0 and posting a 1.75 goals against average with a .945 save percentage. Theodore made 21 saves on 25 shots. Anton Khudobin replaced Theodore and made 4 saves on 5 shots.
Marcel Goc scored his 8th goals of the season when Cam Barker turned over the puck with 7:07 left in the third period. Goc beat Khudobin with a wrist shot on the glove side.
Nashville continued to improve its penalty kill on home ice. The Predators are first in the League in killing off man advantage opportunities of their opponents. The penalty kill overall also moved up one from fifth best in the NHL to third best with a kill off rate of 85.7 percent.
The Wild are ranked first in the league with 20 wins when being outshot by opponents, but Rinne was too much for Minnesota’s offense to handle. Nashville outshot the Wild 30-26.
Nashville aim to make it seven consecutive wins when they visit Florida Thursday night to take on the Panthers.
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