The Preds snuck past the Minnesota Wild and Ryan Suter to get their first win of the 2013 abbreviated season. With goals by Spaling and Erat, Nashville competed all game but never looked like the best team on the ice. They had trouble handling Minnesota's top two lines and, in true Predators form, struggled to set up offensively. But none the less, the Preds avoided overtime and won 3-1, with a goal coming on the Power Play in the final minute of play. Ryan Suter was -2 on the evening and on the ice for every goal against (2 even strength and one powerplay). Chris Mason had a phenomenal game in his first start for the Preds since 2010.
The game opened up with a half-hearted fight from the Preds newest member Richard Clune. It was his second fight in as many games, and there were 0 punches landed between him and Konopka. Clune went on to play a whomping three and a half minutes in the rest of the game.
Heatley opened up the scoring in the first (7 minutes in) with a point shot that deflected off of Klein's Glove and past Mason, who didn't;t know much about it in the first place. The seed of doubt about Mason was planted, but he was impeccable afterwards. The Preds were on their heels for most of the period, except for an Ellis to Bourque stretch pass that put Bourque on a breakaway, but he tripped over his own feet.
Spaling knotted the game with 4 minutes left in the 1st with assists from Yip and Klein. Spaling has scored 5 of his 19 career goals against the wild... in case that comes up at the next Preds trivia night.
The Second Period was a bit more even with the teams both getting a handful of chances. But the game remained, for the most part, a lot of dump and chase with little set up. The Parise-Koivu-Heatley line continued to cause difficulties, but when needed Mason was there to bail out the slow-to-come-home Scott Hannan or the blind-pass-through-the-middle Kevin Klein. There was no scoring in the second.
The Third picked up where the second left off, with even possession but little happening. Even more so for the preds, who couldn't seem to connect their passes what-so-ever. The Preds top lines definitely slowed down in the first, as they were still recovering from a long game the night before.
The dead lock was broken by Erat at the tail end of some 4-4 play, The puck was moved up ice by a missed Wild pass and slowed down just on the offensive side of the Blue line. It was a race to the puck between Erat and Backstrom, which Erat narrowly won. But it wasn't over for #10, he was forced wide and had to quickly come back in just short of the icing line, and avoid two retreating defenders and a desperate goaltender to backhand it into the empty net. Erat showed good poise and hustle in the goal, the latter of which was missing from the rest of the game.
The wild pulled the goalie for the extra attacker with a 1:09 left to play, but took a penalty almost immediately, which led to a Preds Power Play goal scored by David Legwand (assisted by Spaling). Leggy chipped it over a sprawling Backstrom for some late game insurance.
Line Up Report
Predators Scratches: McGratten, Gaustad (injury), Blum
Wild Scratches: Dumba, Kassian
Storylines: Ryan Suter, Chris Mason
This was a big game for the organization as Ryan Suter faces his passed Teammates after a blockbuster deal this summer. Fortunately (for us anyway) it was all bitter and no sweet for #20 as he went pointless and -2. To his credit, the defenseman's line mate was juggled for a portion of the game as Spurgeon left briefly with an injury. However Suter has very little help on the blue line and he is quickly realizing that playing with the leagues best defenseman has it's benefits. Suter didn't play bad, but he didn't play noticeably well either. He is now -3 on the season, and went -1 the team's opening two wins.
Chris Mason is the other player story line of the day. I think Preds fans were a little weary of his signing and even more concerned about his first big start on the road. But Mason played a big part in the teams win, turning away 25 of the 26 shots. Mason got the team's player of the game and was awarded the Gold Chains, which apparently is something the team is doing now. Screencap and tweet courtesy of @Hutch8504
Goals and Assists
6:02 Heatley (Parise, Stoner)
16:31 Spaling (Yip, Klein)
11:45 Erat (Unassisted)
19:43 Legwand (Spaling)
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Chris Mason (NSH)
2. Nick Spaling (NSH)
3. Cal Clutterbuck (MIN)