by Jackson Walsh
Is it safe to say that Minnesota can be called one of our rivals? Each game against them is fast-paced, gritty, hard hitting, and comes down to the final seconds. Thankfully, the home town Predators prevailed, outdueling the Wild 4-2 in a Monday night thriller.
The fact that they got penalized nine seconds into the game on a Viktor Arvidsson tripping call which would lead to two penalties for each team in the opening period tells part of the story on how intense and high-octane the action was throughout.
The Preds drew first blood when Craig Smith, who has played very solid so far this year, scooped up a rebound off the pads of Wild goaltender Alex Stalock giving the Preds their third power play goal of the year and a 1-0 lead.
The Predators would later give the Wild a man advantage when Ryan Johansen interfered with Eric Staal that would give Minnesota their first chance at being able to swarm the net, and eventually, Matt Dumba was able to laser a shot home past Pekka Rinne to tie the game 1-1.
Later on in the second period, these teams that just don’t like each other would give us a good fight between Zac Rinaldo and Matt Hendricks and tons of pushing and shoving leading up to the Predators etching two more scores on the night.
Johansen, 3:51 into the period would find Mattias Ekholm in the slot who drove it home to give the Preds back the lead 2-1 before Scoresberg mode was activated yet again. Kyle Turris steals the puck from Eric Staal, finds Fil up ice, one on one with Stalock, buries it in the back of the net. 3-1 Preds 12:02 into the second period.
Minnesota however, as predicted, would continue the seesaw battle when Zach Parise found Mikku Koivu in front of Rinne who gives Minnesota another tally, cutting the lead to 3-2 15:03 into the third period.
The Wild would make a mad rush to the goal in the last five minutes of play after failing to stack up shots most of the game, then a late call on Mikka Salomaki for tripping Charlie Coyle sure didn’t make it easy. The Preds had a 6-on-4 disadvantage after the Wild on the power play would pull Stalock and try and set up the game-tying score.
The Predator defense would be strong enough to kill the penalty and as Salomaki came out of the box he was able to put the finishing touch on a clear to the empty net to ice the game once again for the home team in a 4-2 victory.
It was a big win for the Predators, who now sit at first in the Central Division and Western Conference at 5-1-0 and 10 pts and an important 2-0 against Central opponents. It’s always important to start out well against the clubs you’ll be playing all season to get an idea of how many wins you are able to have and also to help your cause in a potential tiebreaker. We probably shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves, but it’s nice to have a good start to October, our best since 2015-16 in the opening month of play. It’s good to see the team this ready to compete early on, and it’s fun to continue the bad blood with a team like the Wild, who always give us their best game.
Take a break boys, you earned it. No game until Friday up in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome, let’s keep the good vibe going.