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Minnesota Wild head into Olympic break on a winning streak

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The Minnesota Wild sent its five Olympians off to Russia with two wins in as many games. Two days after knocking off the Tampa Bay Lightning at home, the Wild took care of the Nashville Predators with a 3-2 overtime win Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild (31-21-7) head into the three-week break for the 2014 Olympics winners of two straight and a 6-2-2 record in their last 10 games.

“It’s big for us. We need every point to get to the playoffs,” Nino Niederreiter said. “We finished strong and we have to make sure we keep going like that.”

Nino Niederreiter ended the game with a wrist shot through Olympic teammate Roman Josi and past goaltender Carter Hutton at the 2:16 mark of overtime.

“I had a chance to build up speed and get the puck through,” Niederreiter said.

The Wild scored first when Jonas Brodin rifled a shot past Hutton on the blocker side from the top of the face off circles.

Zach Parise continued his hot streak with 19th goal of the season on the Wild’s first power play of the game. Parise beat Hutton from nearly the same spot and with the same shot as Brodin had earlier in the period.

Craig Smith recorded a pair of goals that turned two one-goal deficits into tied games. Smith is having a career-year with 18 goals.

“You are waiting for the progression of a player,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “If they are good players, they get there on their own time. Craig has just sort of chipped away at what he needs to do. He is a very focused young man. He’s got some good talent.”

The Predators (25-23-10) have climbed back into playoff contention with a 6-2-3 record in their last 11 games. They are now just three points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the second wild card spot.

“We grind them out,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “We gained some ground. Vancouver lost and (Los Angeles was losing at the time). Every night you have to find a way to get a point (in the standings), two points, just keep adding them up.”

The Wild return to action after the Olympic break on Feb. 27 against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Zach Parise. The Wild forward scored a goal.

No. 2 - Craig Smith. The Predators forwards scored two goals.

No. 1 - Nino Niederreiter. The Wild forward scored a goal.

Boxscore

Nashville..……1 1 0 0 - 2

Minnesota……2 0 0 1 - 3

First Period - 1, Minnesota, Brodin 8 (Niederreiter), 4:05. 2, Nashville, Smith 17 (Hutton), 5:50. 3, Minnesota, Parise 19 (Heatley, Pominville), 13:27 (pp). Penalties - Clune, NASH (hooking), 12:11.

Second Period - 4, Nashville, Smith 18 (Bartley), 7:40. Penalties - Beck, NASH (goaltender interference), 2:15; Bartley, NASH (hooking), 15:00; Fisher, NASH (hooking), 20:00.

Third Period - None. Penalties - Heatley, MIN (tripping), 4:40; Niederreiter, MIN (tripping), 9:23; Weber, NASH (cross checking), 16:43.

Overtime - 5, Minnesota, Niederreiter 11 (Brodziak, Spurgeon), 2:16. Penalties - None.

Shots on goal - Nashville 8-3-6-1 18. Minnesota 9-9-15-3 36.

Goalies - Nashville, Hutton (33-36). Minnesota, Kuemper (16-18). Referees - Justin St. Pierre, Brad Watson. Linesmen - Ryan Galloway, Brian Murphy.

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