Good Ol’ Central Division Goal-fest, Ekholm Ends It In OT
By Brett LaBombarda @bplabombarda
The Minnesota WIld played host to the Predators in the Central Division’s Ryan Suter Bowl; it did not need long to get going. At 1:10 of the first period, with their first shot of the game, Jason Zucker snapped in a perfect pass from Jason Pomminville to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
The road team showed some gumption while turning around from the goal against and Calle Jarnkrok created a turnover in the offensive zone at 4:37 into the period and zipped around Darcy Kuemper to tie the game at one apiece. Precisely two minutes later, Zach Parise benefitted from a Thomas Vanek-created turnover and deflected in the 2-1 goal.
Minnesota carried that strong play during a penalty kill after Ryan Carter was called for interference on the Preds’ goal scorer. A swing in momentum provided Nashville with a a 14-10 shot attempt advantage when one found its way in as it was forced to the front of the net. Matt Cullen’s goal tied the game again on a smart play by Victor Bartley to get the puck into a vulnerable position for the defense.
With 1:46 eft in the first, a play off an offensive zone faceoff gmae Craig Smith an opportunity to shovel the puck over recently inserter Nikla Backstrom, giving the Preds a 3-2 lead going into the second.
The Predators kept the pressure on for the first five minutes of the second period, increasing the shot attempt lead to 32-18. The tireless effort from the Nasvhille offense drew Mikko Koivu into a hooking penalty, giving the Preds their third powerplay of the night. Not long after the Wild managed to kill that penalty off, Mike Fisher was called for a a rare double minor hooking penalty. About a minute in, Pekka Rinne showed unbelievable reflexes, making a few twisting saves in succession.
In a very odd turn of events, a scrum in the crease – after a pair of great saves by Pekka Rinne, Marco Scandella snuck one past the netminder on the third rebound and knotting the game once more.
To open the third period, a tricky play saw Filip Forsberg rip a shot of the back boards only to wrist the rebound past Niklas Backstrom for the 4-3 lead.
At 9:05 Roman Josi fired a slapshot in on Kuemper’s glove side to increase the lead to two. Zach Parise quickly got that one back for the Wild – it was his 13th of the season. WIth less than a minute left, Minnesota struck again, this time from Thomas Vanek and the game was tied at 5 with 8 seconds left.
The 1:40 of overtime played was purely buzzing – mostly in Nashville’s favor and eventually leading to a Mattias Ekholm goal and and a 6-5 Predators overtime victory.