NASHVILLE – The Wild’s been burned by back-to-back letdowns throughout the season, a quick turn of events that torments the team.
But Thursday against the Predators, the hiccups bookended a period – a poor start and finish in the second that helped Nashville earn a 4-0 win at Bridgestone Arena.
“For the most part, we have our experienced veterans on the ice in the last minute and first minute and they’re there supposedly to control the game and get you in the flow,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “So it’s deflating.”
After a strong first in which the Wild hemmed the Predators’ in their zone and peppered goalie Pekka Rinne with 13 shots, the visitors couldn’t sustain that momentum following the intermission.
Instead, it was the Predators who pounced – only 37 seconds in on a blistering shot by winger Miikka Salomaki during a delayed Wild penalty.
A slower pace ensued after the goal, which seemed to benefit the Predators more than the Wild. But a one-goal deficit heading into the third wouldn’t have been a bad spot to be in for the Wild.
A two-goal hole, however, made for a steeper climb.
With 29 seconds to go, winger Calle Jarnkrok’s shot went off the post and into the net.
“I thought we started to maybe press a bit too much and turn pucks over, and then I think halfway through the second started to become more of an even game,” defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. “Obviously that one in the last 30 seconds isn’t ideal. Trying to go into the third thinking you’re going to be down by one and ends up being by two. It’s a lot harder to come back from that, for sure.”
This loss didn’t just snap the Wild’s modest two-game win streak.
It also plummeted the team to 1-6 on the road.
“If you look at our schedule, it better change,” said Boudreau, referring to the six road contests looming in the team’s next eight games. “It’s just something that we have to change.”
Although a return home revived the offense, this was the second consecutive road game the Wild was shut out. The team was blanked last Thursday, too, 4-0 in Montreal.
And while the team was able to clean up its play in its own end during its two-game win streak, the breakdowns in the third weren’t pretty.
Nashville winger Craig Smith was left all alone while most of the Wild players were on the right side near the corner. The fourth goal was a shorthanded breakaway.
“We are just trying to take chances at that point,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “Once you're down two goals with 10 minutes to go, you have to take chances and try to make stuff happen. And that's usually what happens.”