The Minnesota Wild were looking for a bounce-back performance after their 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night, and that’s exactly what they got on Sunday night in Nashville against the Predators. Minnesota completely shut the Predators down en route to a 4-0 shutout road victory.
Former Predator Ryan Suter led the way for the Wild defensively, logging 28:42 seconds of ice time. He played extremely well defensively for Minnesota, and his teammates followed his lead. The Wild played a strong, structured game, and it led to the victory.
“A simple game is how we’re successful,” Suter said. “We were able to get the pucks in and get a good forecheck going. A lot of pucks at the net and nothing fancy. That’s how we have to play games right now.”
Minnesota’s first goal came just 26 seconds after Nashville’s first power play of the game expired. Suter got the puck and hit Dany Heatley with a pass to start the play. Heatley then fired a pass to Charlie Coyle, who fired a return pass that Heatley was able to redirect past Marek Mazanec.
“We were just trying to make plays. When you have the puck, you’re looking for your best option. I gave it to [Heatley], Heatley gave it to Charlie and back to Heatley. It was a good play by those guys. I didn’t do much,” Suter said.
The Wild controlled the game from then on. They added three more goals throughout the rest of the game and gave up very few chances defensively to the Predators. It was an impressive win for a team that is battling a whole lot of injuries to top players like Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu.
“There’s a lot of good things going on behind the scenes,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. “To me, a guy like [Jason Pominville] tonight who doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but you’re not there to see how he is on the bench and just the way he goes out shift after shift. [Suter], the same thing. I thought that was a really, really strong game for him.”
The Wild were also without goaltender Josh Harding, so Darcy Kuemper filled in after Niklas Backstrom played Saturday night against Colorado. Kuemper responded with his first career NHL shutout. He wasn’t tested very often by the Predators, but he was able to respond with key saves when he was tested.
“When guys go down, you can do two things. You can feel sorry for yourself, or other guys can step up, and that’s what’s happened for us,” Yeo said.
Before the game, Suter said that the team wanted it more would come away with the victory since both teams had played the night before. It seemed like the Wild wanted the game more than the Predators did, and it was exactly the type of response they were looking for.
“It’s huge,” Suter said. “That next game after a loss is always important. Being back-to-back with travel, it was a big challenge for us, and I thought we played well.”