ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -Andrew Ebbett's rebound shot in overtime lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.
Guillaume Latendresse, who scored for Minnesota during a five-goal first period, was stopped twice by Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne before Ebbett grabbed the puck and punched in the next try with a backhand from the slot. Both Ebbett and Latendresse joined the team in the past two weeks.
Jason Arnott scored twice, including the go-ahead goal early in the third period, helping Nashville's top line get back on track. Steve Sullivan, who had three assists, tied the game at 3 with his goal midway through the second period.
Sullivan, Arnott and J.P. Dumont totaled nine points after a flat performance in a 5-0 loss to Calgary on Monday. They combined for four shots on goal and a minus-5 rating.
The Wild are rounding into form under first-year coach Todd Richards, with at least one point in their past five games, a season-long streak. They handed the Predators their third loss in their past four games, following a seven-game winning streak. Rinne was in net for all three of those losses, allowing 12 goals.
|Preds Pick Up Key Road Point|
|Despite the short-term disappointment of dropping an overtime decision, the long-term reality is the Preds picked up a very import road point in tonight's game at Minnesota.
Short-term they improved to 32 points on the season and broke a tie with Columbus, Dallas, and Phoenix in the Western Conference standings.
Long-term, the team earned another point on the road – moving to 6-5-2 away from home ice with points in five of its last seven road contests. And considering the team's dominance at home – Nashville has picked up at least 50 points at home in each of the last five seasons, averaging 56.2 home points per season over that stretch – anything close to .500 play on the road in '09-10 should put the Preds in great position to return to the playoffs at season's end.
Right now the Preds are ahead of the pace set by its last two teams; the '08-09 team didn't pick up its 32nd point until Game #30 and the '07-08 playoff team didn't pick up its 32nd point until Game #33. And with points in 13 of its last 17 games overall, including eight of its last 10, Nashville not only remains one of the hottest teams in the NHL, but is in prime position to push further ahead of the pace laid out by the '07-08 playoff squad.
Plus, if history is any indicator, Barry Trotz/Jason Arnott led teams have improved as the season went along – last year the Coach/Captain combo followed off a 17-19-3 start with a 21-11-5 run before injuries decimated the final two weeks of the season; the year before it was a 27-15-7 push through the back end of the season to clinch a playoff spot heading into the season finale.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
Two Wild shots hit the post in the first period, and Minnesota had a 3-2 lead after getting only nine shots on net. The Predators controlled the pace over the final two periods, holding a huge edge in shots until an uncharacteristic penalty gave the Wild a power play.
Brunette's crisp pass across the slot set up the tying score for Mikko Koivu, who high-stepped in place several times from his spot in the circle to celebrate his seventh goal this season.
Francis Boullion was called for tripping, just the third whistle against Nashville during the game. The Predators - who had a seven-game winning streak stop in late November - have moved up in the Western Conference with tight defense. They began the day with the second-fewest penalties in the NHL, and Minnesota was tied for the fourth least.
There wasn't a power play in this crisp, clean game until midway through the second period.
Niklas Backstrom wasn't at his best for the Wild. Arnott's slap shot from the right circle whizzed by him to give the Predators the lead early in the third, after former Nashville defensemen Greg Zanon and Marek Zidlicky - now paired with Minnesota - couldn't retreat fast enough after a quick change.
Antti Miettinen scored in his return for the Wild, and Backstrom made 31 saves.
NOTES: In 10 career games for the Predators against the Wild, Sullivan has 19 points. ... These teams play again on Saturday in Nashville. ... In addition to Miettinen, Minnesota brought RW Martin Havlat back to the lineup after a four-game absence due to a hamstring injury. Signed to a six-year contract worth $30 million this summer to help fill the scoring void created when Marian Gaborik left, Havlat has two goals and seven assists in 20 games. He is a minus-15 this season. ... Arnott moved into third place in Predators' history with his 98th goal for the team over four seasons. He passed Scott Walker.
|More Preds Notes:
Steve Sullivan recorded a season-high four points (1g-3a), his highest output since returning from two-year injury absence in the middle of last season ... Sullivan has four goals and 11 points in his last 10 games after opening the season with two goals and five points in his first 17 games ... Marcel Goc scored a goal in his third consecutive road game ... All four of Goc's points this season have come on the road ... Martin Erat has five assists in his last five road games ... Jason Arnott has six goals and 10 points in his last eight games after opening the season with three goals and six points in his first 13 games of '09-10.