Martin Erat’s game-winning goal at 11:45 of the third period would be the difference maker for Nashville as the Predators got their first win of the season, first road win of the year, and topped the Minnesota Wild tonight 3-1.
Tonight’s matchup was the first time the Predators and Ryan Suter had met since Suter’s departure to the Wild over the summer. While it may have been bittersweet before the puck dropped, things quickly changed pace. He and Jared Spurgeon both finished the game a -2 and Suter has yet to record a point since donning the red and green sweater.
The Wild got their only goal of the game 6:02 into the first as Dany Heatley shot from the point and Kevin Klein, in an attempt to glove down the puck, inadvertently knocked it down and past Predators goaltender Chris Mason instead for a 1-0 Minnesota lead. Nashville would tie the game 10 minutes later. Kevin Klein would get a bit of redemption with a blue line shot that bounced off of Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom and found the stick of Nick Spaling, who would deposit it and tie the game at 1.
After a scoreless second period and the first ten minutes of the third, a loose puck gave Martin Erat a potential chance for a breakaway near the 11:45 mark. Backstrom, who hesitated a bit, left his net in an attempt to clear it away to prevent the chance for Erat. However, after knocking said puck right out of the air, Erat took the puck past Backstrom and gently placed it in the back of the net giving the Predators a 2-1 lead.
Nashville would get a late powerplay marked by David Legwand with 17 seconds remaining, making the Predators powerplay 4-10 (40%) after the first 3 games of the season.
Powerplay – 1 for 3, 33%
Penalty Kill – 3 for 3, 100%
Best Play of the Game: Martin Erat slapping an in-air puck out of the net, skating around Backstrom, and slowly putting the puck in the net for the game winning goal
Worst Play of the Game: Klein’s inadvertant attempt to glove down the puck. While a generally good idea, it may have been the difference in a Mason shutout
My Three Stars:
#1: – Chris Mason
#2: – Nick Spaling
#3: – Dany Heatley
See you Thursday night as the Predators travel to St. Louis to take on Blues and get revenge for Saturday night in the second game of this 7-game road trip. Game is at 7pm CT