The Nashville Predators whipped the Minnesota Wild 5-0 at the Bridgestone Arena in a totally dominating effort. With the win, the Predators go to 85 points and have won four straight games. Pekka Rinne recorded his fifth shutout of the season, making 17 saves in the win.
The Predators jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period with an aggressive, attacking game that kept the Wild back on their heels. Colin Wilson opened the scoring for the Predators as he blocked an outlet pass by Wild defenseman Nick Schultz and broke in on goalie Josh Harding for his 7th goal of the season. Wilson whipped a quick wrist shot that beat Harding to the glove side for a 1-0 Predator lead at 7:07 of the period.
Rinne was tested early, as the Wild put pressure on the Nashville netminder in the first. Rinne was strong in net and turned aside all 9 shots he faced in the first period. His stellar play set the tone for the game, as the Wild could not solve the big Finn.
J.P. Dumont scored the second goal for the Predators as he took a nice pass from Jordin Tootoo, who controlled the puck in the corner. Tootoo found Dumont cruising down the slot and he fired a shot over Harding's glove hand for the second Predator tally and his 16th goal of the year.
With time running out in the period, Jason Arnott gathered in a puck at the half board and shot a puck at the net. Harding was inexplicably looking the other way and the puck went behind him and found the back of the net. After the game, Head Coach Barry Trotz said that Harding had broken a strap and was trying to clear the buckle out of the crease and not watching the puck. Arnott was opportunistic with his shot to the net and his effort made the Wild pay with his 18th goal of the year. 3-0 Predators at the end of the first period.
The start of the second period would see the Wild try to exert pressure and get back in to the game. That momentum was quickly derailed by a Marcel Goc goal at 2:19 of the period with a quick blast from just inside the face off circle. Goc recorded his 12th goal of the year to make it 4-0 Predators, and they appeared in control of the game.
If this game would have gone true to form, the Wild would have surged and made it a game, but the Predators had other ideas.They would allow only four shots in the period, while logging 14 of their own. The defense was solid and thwarted any serious scoring chances by the Wild. The defense was smothering the Wild and refused to give them an opportunity to get back in to the game.
The third period was more of the same for the Predators as they continued to dominate the Wild. They only allowed four shots in the third period as well, and outshot the Wild 37-17 for the game. Patric Hornqvist would notch his 27th goal of the season on the power play at 7:35 of the period to make it 5-0 Predators and this game was over. It was just a matter of playing out the clock and getting the win in the books.
This effort against the Wild was total domination by the Predators. After the first period, the Wild rarely got a quality scoring chance as the defense was solid in the zone, limiting the Wild chances. The Predators were exceptional in the neutral zone, refusing to allow the Wild easy entry into the offensive zone and limiting their space.
This was a game that was textbook hockey by the Predators. They exerted their will early and took control of the game. More importantly, they refused to let the Wild get established in the offensive zone and did not allow quality scoring chances. This was Predator hockey to the max.
This is the type of hockey that the Predators have to continue to play. Solid hockey in all zones. A dominating effort from start to finish. They kind of play that breaks the will of your opponent.
Keep playing this way, boys. Go wild on the opposition. Dominate from start to finish. And lock down a playoff spot.
This is the game you have to play. You were built for this type of game. Confident, determined, dominating.