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Postgame: Wild encouraged by its effort in 4-2 loss to Predators

The Wild didn’t put forth an effort worth a win let alone a point in the 5-4 overtime loss to the Hurricanes Saturday.

And apparently the same logic applied to its meeting Monday with the Predators because despite a competitive showing, the Wild was tripped up 4-2 at Bridgestone Arena to drop to 1-2-2.

 

 

“It can be frustrating,” center Eric Staal said. “But you’ve got to believe that if you work like that and you compete, it’ll even out.”

While the Wild still looked scrambly at times, grasping at the cohesiveness it needs to transition from defense to offense, it had a pluckiness about it that was reminiscent of past successes.

Against an opponent of Nashville’s caliber – the reigning President’s Trophy winner for posting the most points (117) in the NHL last season, that’s an encouraging sign.

Players highlighted that after the game, remarking about the team’s battle level and how the work ethic used is the standard the Wild needs to maintain. And while that didn’t translate to two points Monday, maybe it will next time.

“For sure you always want to win,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “But I think in the big picture we also know if you’re playing good hockey game after game, eventually you’re going to win.”

The Wild won’t have to wait long to try to build off Monday’s outing since it hosts the Coyotes Tuesday.

Boudreau said the team would discuss on the plane ride back to the Twin Cities whether it would make a call-up ahead of the game.

It’ll be interesting to see if Koivu’s line with wingers Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund can continue to contribute.

The unit combined for five points against the Predators and has two goals and 10 assists in the past three games.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk will return to the crease Tuesday, but backup Alex Stalock did an admirable job Monday in his first test of the season.

Stalock made 24 saves and could be back between the pipes soon.

The Wild plays another back-to-back Friday (in Dallas) and Saturday (at home against the Lightning).

“He’s a competitor. He competes,” Boudreau said. “He plays hard. Who was going to stop any of the ones that went in? [Mattias] Ekholm from 15 feet out. A rebound on the power play with an open net. He couldn’t see through it, and the other one was a breakaway by [Filip] Forsberg – one of the best players in the league.

“Other than that, he stopped a breakaway that kept us within one goal and then he made another good save on [Viktor] Arvidsson coming in with four minutes to go to give us the opportunity to tie it up. I have no qualms with the way he played.”

Stalock set to make first start of the season for Wild tonight

After making 52 saves Saturday, which tied his career high and ranked as the second-most stops in a game for a Wild goalie in franchise history, Devan Dubnyk will have a little more time to rest and recover.

Backup Alex Stalock is poised to make his first start of the season when the Wild takes on the Predators Monday in Nashville.

 

 

“I’ve been feeling good in practice and stayed healthy through training camp,” Stalock said. “I've done everything I can to prepare for this. So go in there, make some saves and come out with two points."

Coach Bruce Boudreau noted Stalock’s performance at Bridgestone Arena when explaining why Stalock earned the first game of the back-to-back instead of the second, which is Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center against the Coyotes.

Stalock has given up just two goals in each of his last two appearances in Nashville.

“I give credit to our team,” he said. “I know last year we were 3-1-1 against this group, and they're an ultra-talented group. That speaks a lot about our group, the way we can play against these good clubs, and hopefully we keep it going tonight. It's a division game and you see how our division is going to play out all year, so every point is valuable."

The lineup in front of Stalock will look the same as the one the Wild rolled out Saturday in that 5-4 overtime loss to the Hurricanes since the team did not make a call-up from the American Hockey League with center Joel Eriksson Ek out with a lower-body injury.

With another game on tap Tuesday, it’s possible, though, the team does add a reinforcement before facing Arizona.

“Tomorrow might be a little different story,” Boudreau said. “You gotta see tonight’s finish, see how that goes before we make a decision.”

Projected lineup:

Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Jordan Greenway

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund

Nino NiederreiterEric Fehr-Charlie Coyle

Marcus Foligno-Matt Hendricks-J.T. Brown

Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon

Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn

Alex Stalock

Key numbers:

3: Wins last season for the Wild against Nashville.

5-1-1: The Predators’ record vs. the Wild in their last seven meetings in Nashville.

4: Points for defenseman Ryan Suter in the last two games.

8-6-1: The Wild’s record in the first game of a back-to-back last season.

8: Skaters for the Predators have at least three points.

About the Predators:

Nashville has had a strong start, accruing eight points amid a 4-1 record. The team’s top line has been a major catalyst. Wingers Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson and center Ryan Johansen have combined for 14 points. All three have three points in their last two games. In net, Pekka Rinne has been solid – posting a .946 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average.

Final, 10/15 1 2 3 F
Minnesota 1-2-2 1 1 0 2
Nashville 5-1 1 2 1 4

NHL Scoreboard

  • Detroit

    Montreal

     

    - F

    3

    7

  • Dallas

    Ottawa

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • Los Angeles

    Toronto

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • Minnesota

    Nashville

     

    - F

    2

    4