Despite registering 43 shots – their-third highest total of the season – the Predators were only able to beat goaltender Devan Dubnyk twice, as their comeback bid fell short. It’s the fourth loss in five games for the Preds, and their first regulation road loss since they fell on Nov. 16, also at Minnesota.
Nashville’s play in the final 40 minutes of the contest was almost enough to get them a win, but it was their start that was lacking, something the Preds say led to Friday’s result.
“When you enter a game, mentally and physically, you have to be ready for the wars and the battles and we were slow to get out of the hole tonight,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “They were first everywhere, so there’s no excuse for it. It’s got to be better. We’re not going to win games if we’re giving away first periods, and it wasn’t good enough.”
The shots came fast and furious off the sticks of the Wild to open Friday’s contest. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne turned aside 16 shots in the first 20 minutes, but two goals from Mikael Granlund gave the Wild leads of 1-0 and 2-1.
P.K. Subban fluttered a puck past Devan Dubnyk at 10:16 of the first to salvage Nashville’s slow start, but a Matt Dumba strike in the second stanza gave the Wild a 3-1 advantage after two periods.
Nashville continued to push, and a power-play opportunity early in the third saw Kyle Turris deposit his eighth goal of the season to bring Nashville back to within one, but in the dying minutes and with the Preds’ net empty, Granlund deposited his third of the evening to seal the win for the home club.
“We’re disappointed in ourselves tonight because we worked our butts off the last 40 minutes and did a lot of good things, but it was kind of a waste because we weren’t ready at the start of the game,” Nashville center Ryan Johansen said. “We’ll learn from it tonight. The great thing is we play the same guys tomorrow, so we’ll be ready to go, and we’re excited to get back out there on the ice. We wish it was right now.”
As Johansen stated, the Predators won’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption – less than 24 hours from now at Bridgestone Arena – and they figure a quick start will go a long way in helping them to be successful in collecting two points for a chance to get back atop the Central Division.
“We were not playing to our capability at all in the first period, and its frustrating because we were right there,” forward Colton Sissons said. “I think if we take that third period mindset and that effort and desire and passion right from the get-go, we’ll be looking good tomorrow night.”
Forward Filip Forsberg left Friday’s game in the third period with what Laviolette called “a problem” and did not return, with no further update available on Forsberg’s status following the contest.
Miikka Salomaki played his first game since Dec. 21, while Scott Hartnell exited the lineup as a healthy scratch.
Craig Smith fired 11 shots on goal during the contest, a career high for the Nashville winger.
Part two of the Predators and Wild’s home-and-home series comes Saturday night in Nashville at 7 p.m.