Darcy Kuemper got the start for the Wild and stopped all 23 shots he faced. Since getting recalled on Jan. 2, he has started two games and stopped 62 of the 63 shots faced in the two wins. He is playing with a little bit of swagger and confidence that will make him tough to beat and the result was his first career shutout.
The Wild (24-18-5) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period on the backs of the its best line of late. Dany Heatley, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker combined to score both goals in a two minute and 12 second span.
Heatley scored first on a re-direction of a pass from Charlie Coyle off a pretty passing play started by Ryan Suter at the Predators blue line.
Coyle and Heatley connected again on the second goal, but the two of them set up Jason Zucker for a backdoor tap-in goal on a 2-on-1 odd man rush. Coyle won a puck battle at center ice and Heatley fed Zucker at the 14:15 mark.
The Predators (19-20-7) got some momentum in their favor in the second period, but Kuemper was up to the task. He limited the Predators to one-and-done shot attempts by controlling and eliminating rebound opportunities.
The Wild answered the push from the Predators one minute and 14 seconds into the third period when Matt Cooke finished off a flurry of opportunities by the third line. Cooke beat Marek Mazanec across the crease to a pass from Justin Fontaine as the goaltender was trying to get scramble back to position.
Marco Scandella capped the scoring with nine minutes and 16 seconds remaining with a wrist shot through traffic after Mikael Granlund won an offensive zone face off. Nino Niederreiter recorded the primary assist by passing the puck back to the defenseman as Granlund tied up the Predators center.
No. 3 - Darcy Kuemper. The Wild goaltender stopped 23 shots.
No. 2 - Charlie Coyle. The Wild forward recorded two assists.
No. 1 - Dany Heatley. The Wild forward recorded a goal and an assist.
Minnesota……2 0 2 - 4
Nashville..……0 0 0 - 0
First Period - 1, Minnesota, Heatley 9 (Coyle, Suter), 12:03. 2, Minnesota, Zucker 3 (Heatley, Coyle), 14:15 Penalties - Bench, MIN (too many men; served by Niederreiter), 9:37.
Second Period - None. Penalties - Stoner, MIN, major (fighting), :57; Gaustad, NASH, major (fighting), :57.
Third Period - 3, Minnesota, Cooke 6 (Fontaine, Brodziak), 1:14. 4, Minnesota, Scandella 3 (Niederreiter, Granlund), 10:16. Penalties - Hendricks, NASH (roughing), 2:25; Stoner, MIN (hooking), 14:40.
Shots on goal - Minnesota 11-3-9 23. Nashville 5-9-9 23.
Goalies - Minnesota, Kuemper (23-23). Nashville, Mazanec (19-23). Referees - Dean Morton, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen - Pierre Racicot, Kiel Murchison.