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Minnesota Wild falter in regular season finale with playoffs on the horizon

The Minnesota Wild finished the regular season with a 7-3 loss to the Nashville Predators Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Minnesota Wild finished the regular season with a 7-3 loss to the Nashville Predators Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Joseph Gunther/Minnesota Wild Examiner

The Minnesota Wild had nothing to play for Sunday in their regular season finale against the Nashville Predators at the Xcel Energy Center. Their effort reflected a team more worried about staying healthy than to win a game.

The game got away from the Wild during a two minute span in the second period in which the Predators turned a two-goal deficit into a one goal. The Predators (38-32-12) put the game away from there en route to a 7-3 victory.

“That (Matt) Cooke elbow on (Shea) Weber ignited our team,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said about the feeling on the bench. “It really lit our fire. We took that double minor, killed it off and it lit it even further. You saw the response after that. Momentum can be both ways. You can draw penalties and you can light fires emotionally. You poke a bear sometimes and that bear can bite you.”

As soon the Predators put on their push, the Wild were unable to swing the game in their favor. The Predators completely took the game over and scored six unanswered goals.

“For sure, it caught us off guard for a little bit,” Erik Haula said. “They got three goals really quick and the momentum switched in the whole building. It made it a lot tougher. We had our chances when it was 3-1 too to keep going. It started to go in for them.”

The Wild (43-27-12) got off to a good start, especially the line of Erik Haula, Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson.

The trio combined to score the Wild’s first two goals of the game, including Haula’s first career multi-point game.

“It was a great start - a couple shifts and a couple points,” Haula said. “It builds confidence for the game. It’s been awesome playing with (Pominville) and Moulson.”

Haula got the scoring started by knocking a rebound under Predators goaltender Carter Hutton at the

Zach Parise gave the Wild a 3-1 lead early in the second period with a power play score. He re-directed a pass from Mikko Koivu for his 29th goal of the season.

Craig Smith led the Predators charge with two goals and two assists, including one of each in the second period.

The Wild return to action Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center for Game 1 of their first round series of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Calle Jarnkrok. The Predators forward recorded one goal and two assists.

No. 2 - Roman Josi. The Predators defenseman had a goal and an assist.

No. 1 - Craig Smith. The Predators forward recorded two goals and two assists.


Nashville…..…1 4 2 - 7

Minnesota……2 1 0 - 3

First Period - 1, Minnesota, Haula 6 (Pominville, Spurgeon), 5:13. 2, Minnesota, Pominville 30 (Moulson, Haula), 12:13. 3, Nashville, Clune 3 (Gaustad), 14:57 Penalties - Brodin, MIN (holding), 9:55.

Second Period - 4, Minnesota, Parise 29 (Koivu, Pominville), 2:20 (pp). 5, Nashville, Ellis 6 (Ekholm, Smith), 4:57. 6, Nashville, Weber 23 (Hornqvist), 6:22 (pp). 7, Nashville Josi 13 (Jarnkrok, Spaling), 6:57. 8, Nashville, Smith 23 (Josi, Wilson), 15:33. Penalties - Cullen, NAS (hooking), :53; Moulson, MIN (hooking), 5:12; Weber, NAS (cross checking; served by Jarnkrok), 9:42; Weber, NAS (roughing), 9:42; Stoner, MIN (roughing), 9:42; Clune, NAS (cross checking; served by Jarnkrok), 12:52; Clune, NAS (roughing; served by Jarnkrok), 12:52; Clune, NAS, misconduct (10-minute), 12:52; Niederreiter, MIN (interference), 14:22.

Third Period - 9, Nashville, Jarnkrok 2 (Smith, Ellis), 11:50. 10, Nashville, Smith 24 (Spaling, Jarnkrok), 15:41 (pp). Penalties - Fontaine, MIN (holding), 5:22; Spurgeon, MIN (interference), 15:06; McCormick, MIN (roughing), 20:00.

Shots on goal - Nashville 11-10-12 33. Minnesota 13-8-9 29.

Goalies - Nashville, Hutton (30-33). Minnesota, Bryzgalov (16-21), Curry (10-12). Referees - Brad Meier, Dean Morton. Linesmen - Brian Mach, Andy McElman.

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