NASHVILLE – The number of shots, both for and against, was much more flattering for the Wild.
Its power play continued to deliver, and the goaltending remained steady despite a different face taking over the crease.
But these positives couldn’t overcome a few glaring lapses, and the Wild fell 4-2 to the Predators on Monday in front of an announced 17,165 at Bridgestone Arena, its second regulation defeat in a 1-2-2 start.
“It looked like the team I’m used to coaching effortwise,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We made a couple mistakes, and when you do that against that team, it costs you.”
Unlike its previous outcome, a 5-4 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday in which the Wild surrendered 57 shots and was dominated for much of regulation, this result was an accurate read on the action.
The Wild was competitive, showing flashes of a resiliency that has propelled it to victories in the past.
“I said to the guys in there, ‘If you continue to play like that, you’ll win a lot of hockey games,’ ” Boudreau said.
A couple of poor decisions were the difference, toughening the team’s climb in the second period.
Tied at 1-1 and during the waning seconds of a power play, the Wild turned the puck over in the offensive zone.
As the Predators transitioned up ice, eventually getting back to full strength, Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm joined the rush unnoticed and had ample time to accept a drop pass and sling it by Wild backup Alex Stalock 3 minutes, 51 seconds into the period.
“I don’t know what we were doing on that play,” Boudreau said.
Another breakdown later in the period increased the Wild’s deficit.
An errant pass by center Eric Staal was scooped up by Predators center Kyle Turris, who sprung winger Filip Forsberg for a breakaway chance that Forsberg buried at 12:02.
“We have to work so hard for our goals,” Boudreau said. “We can’t be giving up easy goals like that.”
Only 3:01 after that, the Wild responded when Mikko Koivu slapped in a one-timer.
The Wild rediscovered that pushback in the third, testing goalie Pekka Rinne 11 times — including a breakaway look from winger Nino Niederreiter. But its bid at a comeback was extinguished on an empty- netter by winger Miikka Salomaki with 11 seconds remaining.
“I know we didn’t win the game,” winger Zach Parise said. “But at least we were involved.”
After Predators winger Craig Smith put back the rebound off a P.K. Subban shot 6:01 into the first period on the power play, the Wild tied it on a blistering one-timer from defenseman Matt Dumba during its turn with the man advantage. The Wild finished 1-for-4 on the power play.
That lone power-play goal was set up by Koivu and Parise, who also assisted on Koivu’s goal in the third. Parise has six assists in his past three games and leads the Wild in points with seven.
Nashville went 1-for-3 on the power play, and it didn’t get anywhere close to Carolina’s total shot output —getting capped at 28 with Stalock posting 24 saves in his first start of the season.
The Wild also made Rinne work to turn aside 29 shots.
This improvement didn’t register where it matters most, in the win column, but the team believed the performance was a step in the right direction.
“We played a good, solid 60-minute game,” Koivu said. “If you do that long enough, I think eventually we’ll get the win and get that confidence and hopefully get things going the right way.”