The Wild launch a massive comeback to stun the Predators

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, November 16, 2017

By Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star Tribune

ST. PAUL — The suspense lasted all of 49 seconds.

Would Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk extend his three-game shutout streak? Nope. Nashville’s Ryan Johansen scored 49 seconds into Thursday night’s game, spoiling that storyline.

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This hushed an announced sellout crowd of 18,888 at Xcel Energy Center, and it stayed quiet, as the Predators built a three-goal lead.

But the Wild came alive with two late second-period goals and tied it on Eric Staal’s power play goal with five minutes remaining. They won it 6-4 when red-hot Jason Zucker scored from the slot with just under three minutes to play and Jared Spurgeon added an empty-netter with 1:07 to play.

The Predators were hoping to extend their winning streak to six games, with the Wild hoping to extend its winning streak to four.

The Wild liked its chances with Dubnyk at the top of his game. His franchise best shutout streak officially covered 195 minutes, 54 seconds.

Johansen, Nashville’s first-line center, ended it by scoring his first goal of the season in his 18th game. Filip Forsberg hit Johansen with a pass out front from behind the goal line, and from the right side of the crease, Johansen slid the puck through Dubnyk’s 5-hole.

The Wild trailed 1-0 after the first period and was lucky the score wasn’t worse, as Minnesota got outshot 14-8 and had to kill three penalties. Dubnyk stayed sharp even with the streak over. He made a big glove save on Ekholm’s slapshot from the point, helping kill the first penalty.

Nashville stretched the lead to 2-0 in the second period, when Roman Josi whistled a slap shot through Dubnyk’s pads. That time there was a scramble in front of the net, with Dubnyk using his stick to swipe the puck off the goal line at one point before the play moved to Josi on the half-wall.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau challenged the goal, hoping it would be called goalie interference, but the play stood, costing Minnesota its timeout.

The Wild didn’t get its first power play chance until the 10:07 mark of the second period when Forsberg went off for tripping. A cross-checking penalty gave Minnesota a 5-on-3 advantage for 32 seconds. But the first penalty expired, and then disaster struck.

Zucker turned over the puck entering the offensive zone, and Ekholm took the gift on a breakaway, beating Dubnyk with a shot under the right shoulder for a 3-0 Nashville lead.

It looked like the Wild might go quietly into the night, but Matt Dumba beat Pekka Rinne with a slapshot at the 16:16 mark of the second period. Minnesota’s momentum built quickly.

Nino Niederreiter had a goal overturned, as the NHL command center in Toronto ruled that he punched the puck into the net with his glove.

But the struggling Wild power play delivered a goal in the final minute of the period. Mikael Granlund made a nifty 10-foot flip pass to Niederreiter in the slot, and the winger sniped it past Rinne, trimming the lead to 3-2

But 57 seconds into the third period, Nashville led 4-2. Niederreiter sent a defensive zone pass from the half-wall toward the middle, out of his teammates’ reach.