Nashville Predators: Three Reasons for Dominant Win Against Wild

Oct 24, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen (92) celebrates his second goal during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen (92) celebrates his second goal during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Things were not looking promising for the Nashville Predators heading into Sunday night. They were sitting at 1-4-0 on the season in ugly fashion, and a road matchup with the Minnesota Wild on the latter half of a back-to-back was unlikely to go their way.

The Nashville Predators came out swinging and firing on all cylinders. With just under eight minutes left in the first period, the Predators found themselves up 3-0, and they would do more than enough to keep the game out of reach the rest of the night.

Against an objectively strong Wild team, the Predators gave easily their most complete performance and looked like a legit playoff contender. Let’s get into the three biggest reasons why that happened.

Nashville Predators win special teams battle again

Can we see the difference it makes when your special teams are clearly superior to your opponent’s? Hopefully Head Coach John Hynes and company can take notes on what has worked and what has not because as any team would be, the Predators are a much better team when their special teams are on.

This game was no exception, as the Predators would convert their first two power play opportunities and quickly go up 2-0.

The second goal was particularly beautiful to watch, as efficient puck movement had Filip Forsberg set up Ryan Johansen right in front of the net, who would capitalize on a rebound immediately after being robbed the first time.

It’s only two games, but with Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, the Predators now have four goals on their last ten power plays.

For a unit that has been rightfully maligned over the past few seasons, maybe this is a sign of things to come, especially if they can replicate the passing they did on Johansen’s goal.

As for the penalty kill, a perfect 5-for-5, and doing a nice job keeping the Wild and their shooters to the outside at most times. You could not have asked for a much better special teams showing than the Predators gave in this game, which is extremely rare to say.

Star players show up offensively

Another reason for feeling pessimistic about the Nashville Predators’ chances in this game was because their lines had been shuffled yet again. Maybe these were the ones that will finally work, because they absolutely lit up the score sheet.

Forsberg and Johansen each got two points on the night, with Forsberg recording a goal and an assist and Johansen earning two early goals to give the Predators the cushion on the scoreboard.

Roman Josi had a game for the ages, as he registered a goal and three assists, and his assist on Johansen’s second goal of the night was something else. It was his first 4-plus point game since February of 2018 when he recorded five assists against Winnipeg.

Matt Duchene had easily his most productive game of the year so far with three assists, and Mikael Granlund also registered an assist on the first goal of the night.

While you would not call them “stars,” the herd line of Yakov Trenin, Colton Sissons, and Tanner Jeannot worked hard to generate several opportunities in transition, and would eventually combine for a goal as a reward. The goal, which was finished by Jeannot, was quite a beauty, by the way.

The Predators had been waiting for their big name players to finally show up at some point, and they did so in a big way in this one.

A debut to always remember for the rookie goaltender

What a whirlwind the past few months have been for Connor Ingram. As a player with much promise, he entered the NHL’s players’ assistance program to seek help for mental health issues and substance abuse.

Fast forward nine months, and Ingram is back in the NHL with his life seemingly back together. He made his first ever start in this game, and did he ever make the most of it.

Ingram played like an absolute stud, making 33 saves on 35 shots and working hard to keep the puck out of the net multiple times. It is a tremendous story for someone who has undoubtedly earned it.

As far as what this means for the team, if Ingram can not only maintain this level of play but improve it with more experience, the Predators are going to have a ridiculously strong goaltending situation for the next several years.

It is way too early to say what the Predators should do regarding the position, but it is going to be interesting to see the decisions they make with the options they have back there.

With the impressive 5-2 win as underdogs, the Predators are now 2-4-0 on the season with a home game with the San Jose Sharks up next on Tuesday.