Back-to-backs can be tough in the NHL. But what about facing the same opponent twice in a row?
The Nashville Predators defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in a shootout Sunday in St. Paul, Minn. The teams will meet again Tuesday night in Nashville.
The Wild (32-27-7, 71 points) had their five-game winning streak snapped, but they still extended their season-long points streak to six games. That helped them pull into a tie with Dallas for the top wild-card playoff berth in the Western Conference.
“They don’t want to be thought of as the team that didn’t make (the playoffs),” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They’re giving it everything that they have.”
Nashville’s Filip Forsberg scored the tying goal with 4:19 remaining in regulation, and Ryan Johansen converted in the fourth round of the shootout Sunday.
“A step in the right direction,” Johansen said. “Some more adversity today on the road, and just finding a way to win. We’re going to build off that.”
Although just one point behind Winnipeg in the Central Division, the Predators (38-25-5, 81 points) haven’t enjoyed the same success as the previous two seasons. They reached the Stanley Cup Final two years ago and won the President’s Trophy for the best regular-season record last year.
“We need to start pushing our collection,” said Predators coach Peter Laviolette said, whose team is 5-6-1 in its past 12 games. “I really liked the resiliency of our group.”
While the Predators spent a couple of days in the Twin Cities, the Wild traveled to Calgary for a game Saturday night. After a 4-2 victory against the Pacific Division-leading Flames, the Wild faced a 2 1/2-hour flight and an early start Sunday.
“We all expected to win that game no matter what the travel is, especially if we played our game,” said Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, who scored a goal against Nashville. “I thought we played pretty well.”
Backup goaltender Alex Stalock made 41 saves to keep the Wild in the game.
“I thought our effort was great,” Wild defenseman Ryan Suter told NHL.com. “With the kind of the adversity we faced the last day here, I thought our effort was great, and I thought Al played solid and it was a good night.”
The game also featured the return of forward Mikael Granlund to Minnesota, just six days after he was traded to the Predators in exchange for fellow winger Kevin Fiala.
Granlund was honored during a first-period break with a tribute video.
It’s been a big week for Granlund, the trade notwithstanding. He was informed of the deal by Wild general manager Paul Fenton after his fiancee had gone into labor. He became a father the next day — on his 27th birthday.
“It’s been fun to play games,” said Granlund, who made his Predators debut Friday at Winnipeg. “Hopefully I’m going to find my rhythm and systems and everything so I don’t need to go out there and think.”
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