Minnesota scored five power-play goals, including both ends of a controversial first period five-on-three power-play, en route to a 6-2 win over the Predators at Sommet Center on Saturday night. The Wild were awarded a three five-on-three advantages and a pair of 4:00 power-play to account for 10 of the team’s 11 power-play chances.
Andrew Brunette, Mikko Koivu, and Antti Miettinen each had three point nights to lead the Minnesota offense.
The Wild raced out to an early 2-0 lead courtesy of an altercation on an icing play. On an uncontested icing call on Minnesota, Ryan Suter was hit by Craig Weller, a new point of enforcement in the NHL this season. Shea Weber dropped the gloves and retaliated against Weller. The referees called Weber and Weller for fighting, but also tacked an additional two minutes for Weber, ignoring the initial infraction on Weller. Ryan Suter drew an unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing from the bench, giving the Wild a five-on-three power-play. The Wild scored 15 seconds into the two-man advantage on a Pierre-Marc Bouchard slap shot from the left wing faceoff dot. Thirty-five seconds after that, Brunette scored in transition for a second power-play goal.
Minnesota extended its lead to 3-0 on Owen Nolan’s power-play goal 4:09 into the second period.
The Predators got on the board with Jason Arnott’s 12th goal of the season off of a faceoff play in the Minnesota zone. Arnott won the faceoff back to Martin Erat and cut to the front of the net. Erat quickly shuffled the puck forward to J.P. Dumont at the bottom of the faceoff circle for a two-on-one down low. Dumont fed a perfect cross ice pass through the top of the goal crease for an easy tap-in score at the 9:41 mark of the middle period.
Off the ensuing center ice faceoff, the Predators created a three-on-two entering the offensive zone, but the shot misfired. Greg de Vries had a chance to draw the game within one later in the period when his blast from the right point was blockered aside.
The Wild regained a three-goal advantage before the second intermission when Koivu was left alone cutting to the left post. Koivu took a pass from Brunette with 5:00 left in the period and converted for his seventh goal of the season.
David Legwand scored a four-on-three power-play goal with 13:02 remaining in regulation to bring the Predators back within two goals, 4-2. Ville Koistinen created the play with a snap pass from the point to Legwand cutting left to right through the center slot. Legwand collected the pass and snapped a backhander for his fourth goal of the season. Moments later with the teams skating four-on-four, Koistinen missed high on a quality scoring chance.
The Wild added power-play goals by Koivu and Weller late in the period to close out the scoring.
Post Game Notes:
Nashville is 5-3-0 in back-to-back sets this season, including 3-1-0 in the back end game... Jason Arnott has goals in back-to-back games. Arnott has scored 4 goals in the past 4 games... Arnott has 14 points in 12 games against teams with a points percentage above .500, including 5 points in 6 games against teams with a points percentage above .600... J.P. Dumont has 14 points in 12 games against teams with a points percentage above .500, including 6 points in 6 games against teams with a points percentage above .600 ... Dan Ellis has allowed just 3 even-strength goals in his last 3 starts, stopping 45-of-48 even-strength shots in the process (.938 save percentage).
Post-Game Quotes: Head Coach Barry Trotz On the first two goals of the game…
“We got beat by a good power play and we took way too many penalties that compounded our problems. I am not going to agree with every call that was made by the refs, but I do know we spent a lot of time in the box and you’ve got to get through that. We compounded our problems very early on the icing call. We ended up 5-on-3 and they scored two quick goals which put us in a hole. After the third goal we started to refocus, get our composure back, we scored to make it three to one and we started building some momentum. We actually started getting some traction against a very good team. The fourth goal is the one I thought that killed us. It was just a plain and simple 3-on-3 coverage drill and our forward didn’t fulfill his obligation on that. The last two goals were just us looking for an excuse. It was just undisciplined. We got beat by a very good team with a very good power play.”
On the players’ energy…
“I think from our standpoint this was an important game. It’s a team we’re chasing. We were at home tonight which we hadn’t been in a while and guys were wired. We thought we weren’t handed a fair shake on the first call but we’ve got to fight through that. Instead we compounded the problem, let them get a goal, and dug ourselves a hole. We have been down 2-0 three of our last six games. Every one of them has been from compounded penalties in the first period. We can place blame but overall we need to take responsibility and be disciplined. Everyone needs to be disciplined; I’ll take responsibility for the staff but the players need to be as well. We were undisciplined as a team and that’s not the way we need to play.”
On Weber after the first-period icing call…
“Weber thought it was a cheap shot. Everyone on our team heard the ref call ‘icing’ and there’s a new rule on an icing call that you cannot hit or it’s an automatic penalty. I talked to the referees and the linesmen and there were different stories coming out of everyone. Weber went in to back up his teammate, which he should do. That was unfortunate because we would have been five-on-four, instead of three-on-five.”
Defenseman Shea Weber
On the physicality of the game…
“I thought we did a pretty good job in having our guys stick up for one another. We took too many penalties. Their power play buried us.”
Captain Jason Arnott On losing three straight at home trying to get back on track…
“It seems like we get more into penalty trouble at home than we do on the road. That is something we are going to have to discuss. Otherwise, it is going to be a long season.”
Forward Scott Nichol On the scrappiness of the game and taking too many penalties…
“You go down 5-on-3 four times in the game it is going to end up in the back of the net. That is what happened tonight. We did not really come out with a lot of jam or jump. They took the momentum with the power play.”
On his fight…
“I wanted to get the guys going again; maybe change the momentum and get the fans going. The fans are such a big part of our success at home. That is hockey. It is scrappy with a big hit or fight or scoring a goal.”
On the effort of the penalty kill…
“It was brutal tonight. We need to go back to the drawing board on that. You just get warn out. You cannot kill that many penalties. Guys are too good in this league. You can kill those three or four, but after the fifteenth and sixteenth ones, they can figure out where you are going and pick you a part pretty good.”
Goaltender Dan Ellis On the Wild being aggressive from the start…
“It is tough to comment on this game. We did not play very smart. We kind of bit ourselves in the butt. When you go into the box as many time as we did against one of the top power plays in the league, you got to expect to give that team a little life. We have had the number one penalty kill at home but however many power plays they had. With the 5-on-3’s and all the good players on their team, they have a good track record of putting it in the net.”
On the many 5-on-3 power plays leading to taking it out on other players…
“It was frustration. Guys’ emotions are running high and making decisions that should not be made. When you lip off to a ref or compound a penalty already, you cannot be beating yourself. That is what we have done a lot this year. We are beating ourselves not getting beat by other teams. That is the most frustrating part. We have to find a way to stop doing that.”
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