NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Matt Duchene scored a goal and assisted on another to lead the Nashville Predators to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Nino Niederreiter also scored and Juuse Saros made 32 saves for Nashville. Ryan Johansen had two assists.
”I thought 5 on 5, it was a pretty even game,” Predators coach John Hynes said. ”I thought they had some strong pushes at certain times. I thought when they were pushing, we were able to defend pretty well.”
Frederick Gaudreau scored and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots for the Wild.
”We played a real strong hockey game,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. ”Their power play scored, ours did not.”
Niederreiter scored the first goal at 11:20 of the opening period off passes from his two linemates, Johansen and Duchene.
”We’re three pretty heavy guys in the corner and on the forecheck, guys that can skate over pucks and physically dominate, so I think we did a good job of that,” Duchene said.
The assist was Duchene’s 700th career point, but the winger didn’t sit on that milestone very long.
Duchene followed 44 seconds later with a power-play goal on a one-timer from the high slot off a feed from Johansen.
Saros stopped all 27 shots he faced through the first two periods, but Gaudreau finally snuck one by him 32 seconds into the third on the first Minnesota shot of the final period.
Saros wouldn’t allow the equalizer though, preserving the victory by denying Joel Eriksson Ek on a point-blank shot with about 90 seconds left.
”He’s the man,” Johansen said of Saros. ”He’s got world-class talent. He never second-guesses his game. It’s all his work and leadership, his skill that he brings every day.”
A BETTER START
In scoring two first-period goals and allowing none, the Predators reversed a trend that’s plagued them through the first 15 games. Entering the day, Nashville had been outscored 20-9 in first periods this season – the worst differential in the NHL.
POINT STREAKS EXTENDED
With the assists on Gaudreau’s goal, Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov extended their point streaks to four games. During that span, Zuccarello has a goal and three assists while Kaprizov has two goals and three assists.
”Obviously when you don’t score, you lose games,” Zuccarello said. ”We can’t be too negative after this game. I think we were the better team.”
Wild forward Brandon Duhaime returned to the lineup after missing Minnesota’s previous five games with an upper-body injury.
Wild: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins to start a seven-game homestand Thursday.
Predators: Host the New York Islanders on Thursday.
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