Nashville Predators: Five takeaways from last night’s win over the Wild

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 27: P.K. Subban /

The victory was difficult to earn, but the Nashville Predators returned to their winnings ways. What can we take away from last night’s game?

It was a physical game, but we knew that before the puck was dropped. Two teams preparing for the playoffs, looking to separate themselves from other contenders, took to the ice in what felt like playoff hockey. In the end, the Nashville Predators walked away victorious. But, it didn’t come easy.

The Minnesota Wild played hard all night, skating aggressively to the puck at all times. They blocked shots, deflected the puck, and worked the body of Predators players. It worked for most of the game. But, the Predators played a similar style. Their lone goal in regulation came off a blast by Roman Josi less than three minutes into the game. Kyle Turris won the puck off a faceoff, setting up Josi for the shot.

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The 1-0 lead lasted for 54 minutes. The Wild kept pressuring the net Predators net, finally breaking through as Eric Staal earned his 40th goal of the season. Sixty-minutes was not enough time to decide the winning. Not long into overtime, Ryan Ellis found the bet with a great shot but a review found Turris was offside. A shootout was in order, which the Predators won in three rounds.

What we learned

First off, Nashville suppressed shots extremely well. The Wild only obtained 23 shots on goal, eleven of which were in the first forty minutes. Being down a goal, you expect the Wild to play more aggressively as time winds down. They did. However, overall, the Predators kept the Wild out of position to shoot. The team blocked 11 shots, with Ellis leading the way with three blocks.

Additionally, the Predators limited high danger opportunities. Both teams finished with seven high-danger chances at even strength. While that sounds like a high number, Nashville allowed 48 over their last five games, including 14 against the Winnipeg Jets. But, limiting chances means less pressure on Pekka Rinne.

Speaking of Rinne, outside of two plays, he was outstanding yet again. Those two plays were times the puck bounced oddly off the wall. Thankfully, they did not lead to goals for the Wild. Rinne made save after save, including two great moments in the shootout to win the match.

Not only did the Nashville Predators win the game on the ice, they defeated the mental game of the Wild. Things began to get testy during the second period. Both teams entered scrums after the whistle but it seemed the Wild were the aggressors. Seven penalties were called in the second period, though there were questions as to their validity. Ryan Hartman was called for tripping just over five minutes into the period, but it appeared to be more of a hip-check. Hartman also drew two Wild penalties in the second. The physical play continued into the third, but the referees swallowed the whistles letting the teams battle for the win. Several plays there were penalties earlier were not called late in the game.

This leads to my final take away from the game. The Predators’ power play is, well, terrible. In ten minutes of power play chances, Nashville managed four total shots. This includes nearly a minute of 5v3 time. The puck moved around the point but never made it to the middle of the ice. Once a top power play in the NHL is not 16th. This needs to change. And fast.

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The win was just what the Nashville Predators needed. With 109 points on the season, they lead the Jets by five, Vegas by six, and the Tampa Bay Lightning by 3 points. And, the Predator solidified home ice in the opening round.  All in all, it was a good win.