(Photo by: John Russel/Getty Images)
Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild exit Bridgestone Arena with a 2-1 shootout win over the Nashville Predators in a back-and-forth contest. The only goals of the game were scored on the power play and the game had to be settled in the high pressure shootout competition.
The offensive woes continue for the Predators by not creating opportunities for themselves. Rarely were the Preds having legitimate chances at scoring because the Minnesota defense was keeping them to the outside. Losing Colin Wilson to an injury didn’t help the team either Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Pekka Rinne had another huge game stopping 28 of 29 shots until the shootout, where he gave up a weak goal. Rinne was pretty hard on himself afterward the game saying, "I’ve been terrible in the shootouts, it’s embarrassing.
"If you want to get a win against us, just take it to shootouts. I can’t stop the puck in shootouts."
Nashville entered the game with a similar intensity of the night before against the Edmonton Oilers. They were quick on the puck and played their game. However, the end result was quite different to what happened against Edmonton.
4:08 in, Zach Parise stole the puck in his offensive zone from Kevin Klein and chipped it over the head of Rinne. Just before the puck crossed the goal line, captain Shea Weber plays superhero and clears it out of the danger zone.
Paul Gaustad and Ryan Suter jousted early in the first period. The fans were out of their seats cheering in approval for Gaustad to beat the “traitor” up.
After the end of a scoreless first period, the shots were in favor of the Predators 9-5.
The second period didn’t start as wanted by the Predators. Colin Wilson was hit hard by Justin Falk into the boards. Wilson went down to the ice and was there for a substantial amount of time before going to the dressing room. He didn’t return to action. (More down the page).
Minnesota was able to succeed on a power play halfway through the period. Ryan Suter’s shot from the point was deflected by Parise standing in front of the net. That gave the Wild an ice breaking lead.
10:36 in, Rinne made a spectacular save that kept the Preds in the game. Dany Heatley had the puck, alone in-front with his back turned to the Finnish goaltender. Heatley was given a rebound with half the net open, but Rinne made a solid push with his leg extended to make the save.
Now going to the third, the game seemed to liven up after a dull ending to the second and start to the third. 5:53 in, Suter was sent to the box for roughing Gaustad in the Wild zone. The crowd stood up and roared in applause to see Suter in the sin bin.
Since the Predators wouldn’t have it any other way, they scored on the power play at 6:28. Sergei Kostitsyn’s back-door, cross ice pass was received by David Legwand, who snapped the puck into the net to tie the game at one a piece.
Neither team was able to score again in regulation, thus sending the game into extra time for the second straight time this series.
The overtime session was all Minnesota. Rinne was given a penalty for playing the puck outside the trapezoid, giving the opponent a dangerous 4-on-3 power play with plenty of room to move the puck. With 33 seconds remaining on the penalty kill, Devin Setoguchi’s one-timer from the near circle tipped off Rinne’s glove and trickles off the post to Scott Hannan, who clears the puck out.
Fortunately, the Preds were able to kill of the Wild’s power play and head to the shootout. Minnesota put six shots on net during the 5:00 OT, more than the 20:00 first period. The game headed into the dreaded shootout based on luck, not skill.
After a scoreless first round, Mikko Koivu got the puck past a gaping five hole left by Rinne. Craig Smith answered right back with a goal himself to tie it up. Smith came in slow, stopped in the low slot and went with his backhand past Niklas Backstrom.
Matt Cullen scored the what would be game winning shootout goal after David Legwand hit iron. Cullen came in fast, stuttered and shot blocker side into the net, giving his team the second point of the night.
Line Up Report
#35 Pekka Rinne
#32 Niklas Backstrom
Predators Scratches: #7 D Jonathon Blum, #24 W Matt Halischuk (conditioning assignment) and #27 W Patric Hornqvist (upper body)
Minnesota Scratches: #39 D Nate Prosser, #64 C Mikael Granlund and #96 C Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Suter Returns: Since his first shift of the game and until the final shootout goal, former Predator Ryan Suter was booed by everyone at Bridgestone Arena when he touched the ice. "It’s not fun being booed," said Suter. "It went the whole game, too. That kind of surprised me."
Going into the game, Suter was quoted saying that he thought the reaction when he stepped on the ice was going to be mixed. However, he couldn’t have been more wrong.
It really all started in warm ups with a lot of signs mounted on the glass saying “Forever Robin”, “$uter $ucks” and “You’ll Always Be Robin”. Wild teammates were looking around at the signs with some chuckling—Setoguchi and Konopka—and some disliking it—Rupp.
After the power play goal was scored by David Legwand while Suter was in the box, Section 303 didn’t go with their usual routine after a goal was scored. Instead of blaming the goalie they blamed Suter by chanting, “Suter…Suter…Suter, You Suck,” followed by “It’s all your fault!”
There wasn’t a tribute video for Suter however, as expected and wanted by the fans. Trotz thought it was a good move by the organization not to do so to “protect Ryan.”
Another top forward injured: Nashville forward Colin Wilson adds to the injury list for the Predators. At 1:43 into the second period Wilson fell to the ice after being hit hard by Minnesota defenseman Justin Falk. Wilson was down on the ice for at least two minutes during an injury timeout. Once he was helped up by the training staff, Wilson went straight to the locker room.
Wilson did not return with an upper body injury and will be evaluated Monday according to Barry Trotz. It looked similar to the injury to Patric Hornqvist the night before and in the same place. It wouldn’t be a surprise if it was a shoulder or arm injury.
This is now an opportunity for the newcomers Zach Boychuck and Bobby Butler to step up and show the coaching staff they are ready to play big minutes when the time comes. Also, this gives Craig Smith and Sergei Kostitsyn a huge chance to shine moving up to the top lines.
Trotz hinted at the real possibility of bringing Matt Halischuk back up to the NHL squad during his postgame press conference.
Goals and Assists
1-0 MIN: PP Zach Parise – Suter and Koivu at 9:01 in the 2nd
1-1 Tied: PP David Legwand – Kostitsyn and Weber at 6:28 in the 3rd
Shootout – Mikko Koivu, Craig Smith and Matt Cullen (GWG)
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Mikko Koivu: Shootout Goal, Assist
2. Pekka Rinne: 28 saves
3. Mike Fisher: Threw the body around alot