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:


  • 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,

Penalties Plague Predators, Lindback Prevails

Anders Lindback protects the net from Stephane Veilleux.

With only three games left in the regular season, the Nashville Predators would either come out swinging or take their time, trying to avoid any injury or mishap possible. However, with a possible playoff position still looming in the air as to wether the Predators would start out at home or away, the boys couldn’t afford to sit back and let the Minnesota Wild (who are completely out of the playoff running) come out and steal the show.

It’s hard to believe that at one point during this season, Minnesota was sitting pretty at the top – and by top, we mean the entire league. Injuries hit the Wild hard this season, with Minnesota almost exhausting their farm team’s roster. But, that’s the beauty of hockey; nothing is for certain. However, just because Minnesota’s out of the running doesn’t mean they’ll just finish off the rest of their season quietly. The Wild have won their last three games, including Chicago 5-4 on Sunday. Needless to say, Minnesota came to the Music City raring to go.


  • When Nashville announced that goalie Chet Pickard would be called up from the Milwaukee Admirals, it was pretty clear Pekka would be taking the night off. Though said from officials to be suffering from both the stomach flu and cold-like symptoms (well, which one?), it was obvious Pekka was on the scratched list just so he could have a night to rest and for Anders Lindback to get some much needed ice time.
  • Jack Hillen, Ryan Ellis, and Brian McGrattan were the usual scratches last night, but also making the list were Matt Halischuk, Jordin Tootoo, and (surprise, surprise) Colin Wilson. Halischuk has proven himself time and time again, but Trotz chose Craig Smith of the lineup in his place. As for Toots, well he may be sitting more often thanks to Radulov’s tremendous influence on the team so far. And, last but not least, Colin is well, still healing (…).
  • If you happened to catch the game last night, you would have noticed both teams had problems staying on their feet, with many of the players simply dropping to the ice. Snipers in the Bridgestone? No, just “choppy” ice conditions. Thanks to the unseasonable warm weather, the ice in the Bridgestone wasn’t at peak condition, thus allowing for more divots in the ice, causing issues with the blades on the skates. In fact, we are pretty positive Mike Fisher is made of lead.
  • The first period was slow for both teams, possibly because of the issue with the ice, but Nashville was able to release 10 shots to Minnesota’s 12. Both Lindback and Backstrom were ready, whether the ice was melting or not.
  • Gabriel put the first points on the board at 12:31 in the 2nd Period with a clean pass from Nick Spaling (11th assist). Bourque has been the rookie on fire as of late, sealing his 7th goal of the season.
  • Minnesota responded to Bourque’s goal at 17:53 with a goal from Dany Heatley, his 23rd goal of the season. The Predators and Wild would end the 2nd Period tied at one.
  • The 3rd Period resembled the first, with no goals recorded by either team. Both teams evenly hit seven shots on goal, but both Linback and Backstrom were still on their A-Games.
  • Overtime produced no goals, so to the shootout they went. This would be Anders Lindback’s first career shootout. Here’s how it played out:
  1. MINNESOTA – Erik Christensen – MISS
  2. NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE
  3. MINNESOTA – Mikko Koivu – SAVE
  4. NASHVILLE – Alexander Radulov – GOAL
  5. MINNESOTA – Devin Setoguchi – SAVE
  • Radulov’s ego will rise as he continues to shine on NHL ice, which as long as he is wearing a Predators sweater, we don’t care. Anders Lindback not only made Nashville proud, he also made goalie coach Mitch Korn beam with pride, realizing that even behind Pekka, Nashville has an extraordinary goalie. Lindy was able to stop 25 of 26 goals on net.
  • As stated in the headline, penalties were Nashville’s best friend last night as the Predators racked up six penalties in the 1st and 3rd periods; that’s three more than Minnesota accumulated. Lucky for the Predators, the Wild weren’t able to capitalize on any of their penalty chances. Here are the six offenders:
  1. Ryan Suter – 7:25 1st Period – Cross Checking
  2. Brandon Yip – 16:42 1st Period – Roughing
  3. David Legwand – 18:53 1st Period – Interference
  4. Martin Erat – 0:42 3rd Period – Tripping
  5. Nick Spaling – 11:54 3rd Period – Hooking
  6. Andrei Kostitsyn – 19:48 3rd Period – Tripping

Although Minnesota snuck away with one point, Nashville ultimately left with the big W, which is better than nothing. It is understandable why the Predators want smooth sailing for the remainder of their regular season, but with Detroit nipping at their heels, Nashville can’t afford any losses this week.

The Predators finish their final home game on Thursday against the Dallas Stars, a fellow playoff contender. The Predators will end the their season in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Until then,

Preds Player Profile: Paul Gaustad

Gaustad isn't afraid to drop the gloves and take a hit or two.

Paul Gaustad was the second and last trade pickup made this past Monday at the Trade Deadline between the Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres. Like the Andrei Kostitsyn trade move, Predators fans were blind-sided by the trade for the Center for a first round pick (the Sabres also gave the Predators a fourth round in the trade).

Paul Gaustad was born on February 3, 1982 in Fargo, North Dakota and was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2000 NHL Draft, 7th Round (220th overall). Add another tall one to the Predators roster, Gaustad stands at 6’5″, the same height as goalie, Pekka Rinne.

Gaustad began his hockey career in the WHL under the Portland Winter Hawks and notched three seasons with the minor league of the Canadian Hockey League. Gaustad began playing under the AHL team for the Buffalo Sabres in 2002-03 and made his way to the Sabres in 2005.

The forward/enforcer had a close call on February 7, 2007 when a collision with Ottawa Senator, Dany Heatley almost ended his career. Gaustad’s tendon was sliced by Heatley’s skate and, if it had been an inch deeper, Paul’s career would have been shot right then and there. Fortunately for Gaustad, his season was ended by the accident, but his career would remain intact.

After a productive 2007-08 season, the Buffalo Sabres re-signed Gaustad to a 4-year extension worth $9.2 million, just before becoming a free agent.


  • Wore #14 while in the AHL, but had to revert to #28 due to Rene Robert having that number retired with the Sabres.
  • Scored 12 goals in three consecutive seasons (2008-09 to 2010-11).
  • Shares the same birthday as new Nashville Predator, Andrei Kostitsyn. Former Nashville Predator (now Montreal Canadiens) Blake Geoffrion also shares the February 3rd birthday.
  • 12th American to play for the Nashville Predators this season.

Paul Gaustad was fan favorite in Buffalo and is sure to bring his popularity to Nashville. Although he, Jordin Tootoo and Anders Lindback had a heated square-off due to the Ryan Miller incident, Gaustad will fit with the rest of the Predators just fine. It was clear that Gaustad was simply standing up for his fellow teammate, which means he will do the same with his new teammates with the Predators.

Like Brian McGrattan, Paul Gaustad isn’t afraid to drop the gloves and is quite the enforcer. Along with this attribute, Gaustad’s frame makes him ideal for screening shots on goal, just like fellow giant, Hal Gill.

Paul Gaustad is expected to make his Predators debut on Saturday against the Florida Panthers and was seen practicing with the team on Thursday morning. Gaustad is coming off an upper-body injury, keeping him from playing last Tuesday alongside newcomer, Andrei Kostitsyn.

Welcome to Nashville, Paul Gaustad!

(Photo credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America)