Third Time’s the Charm; Preds grasp 3-1 Win over Wild

Nick Spaling capitalizes in Minnesota

FINALLY! A POST WITHOUT EXPLAINABLE EXCUSES! Ahh, just kidding; the Preds didn’t do that bad during the last two games, but how refreshing it is to write the first winning post of the season! And against the power couple that is Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, no doubt!

The Predators started out a bit iffy tonight, similar to last night’s start with the Wild showing the upper-hand. Showing no fatigue from last night’s shootout loss to the Blues and the late night plane ride, the Preds kept par with Minnesota, inevitably holding strong for the win. Here are the highlights from tonight’s first win of the season:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad traveled to Minnesota with the team and even took to the ice during practice this morning. However, his upper-body injury is still on the mend, so he, Jonathon Blum, and Brian McGrattan were your three scratches for the night.
  • Gabriel Bourque, who played a substantial role during last year’s playoffs, boarded a plane from Milwaukee at 7AM this morning to join the team in St. Paul. Bourque did not originally join the team at the end of the lockout due to an injury, healing while with the Admirals.
  • Chris Mason was given his chance to hit the ice for the Predators once again since 2008, getting the nod as starting goalie against Niklas Backstrom. Pekka Rinne, after a rough two games at home, took a needed break, although many were weary of Mason’s preparation against a 2-0 opponent.
  • Minnesota started out on the feisty side, keeping the action centered around Mason and the Predators’ zone. At 6:02, Dany Heatley knocked one past Mason, his third goal of the season.
  • The Wild’s early strike stirred the pot for the Predators, waking them up near the end of the first period with a wrist shot at 16:31 from Nick Spaling, his first goal of the season, to tie the game. Kevin Klein and Brandon Yip both picked up their first assists of the season.
  • The second period remained quiet on the goal front, but not on the defensive and offensive front. The Predators put up more shots on goal during the second (10 to Minnesota’s 7), and Chris Mason made some key and valuable saves to avoid sending the Wild into the lead.
  • The majority of the third period had most Predators fans wondering if they were going to see yet another shootout (three in a row?!), with both sides taking an even amount of eleven shots on goal during the period. However, Martin Erat nailed the magic backhand past a misplaced Backstrom to put the Predators up 2-1 for his second goal of the season at 11:45. Unassisted, we might add.
  • The Wild would pull Backstrom to give them an extra hand, but a last minute slashing penalty on Pierre-Marc Bouchard ended up backfiring on the Wild, giving the Predators the upper-hand and David Legwand’s first goal of the season at 19:43 on the powerplay. His snapshot was assisted by Nick Spaling.

The game was full of penalty action, both on the Predators and the Wild. Thankfully for the Predators, none of their penalties had a reprocution of a goal in favor of the Wild, but the latter can be said for Minnesota. Here are your Predators that wanted some alone time in tonight’s game:

  1. Rich Clune – 1st Period, 2:18 – Fighting
  2. Nick Spaling – 1st Period, 12:16 – Tripping
  3. Patric Hornqvist – 1st Period, 19:55 – Roughing
  4. Shea Weber – 2nd Period, 4:03 – Interference
  5. Brandon Yip – 2nd Period, 19:17 – Roughing
  6. Patric Hornqvist – 3rd Period, 9:47 – Goaltender Interference

The Zach Parise/Ryan Suter pairing have proven to be a power couple in just two games, but it was proven tonight that they are flawed and are not invincible. Though Roman Josi and Shea Weber have not meshed as well as Suter/Weber once did, the season is still young and, though it is a shortened season, the Josi/Weber pairing has time (not too long) to mesh and maybe, just maybe, we’ll forget all about that “Ryan Suter” character.

Let us not forget backup goaltender, Chris Mason. The Wild were brutal on net when they were in the crease, giving both the Preds defense and Mason a run for his money for not being a lanky, 6’7″ Finnish phenom. Mason blocked 28 of 29 shots on goal; though you can argue Peks has stopped many more than that while balancing on his right pinkie, Mason revived a few reluctant fans (and analysts) who just weren’t sure about how he could stack up to both Pekka and former backup goalie, Anders Lindback. After tonight’s performance, it looks like Chris Mason has measured up and surpassed even our critiques.

The Predators are off tomorrow night, but face the Blues in St. Louis on Thursday night. After tonight’s reviving win, will the Predators take that momentum across the West?

Until then,
GO PREDS!

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