(Sports Network) – Pekka Rinne stopped 22-of-23 shots as Nashville downed Minnesota, 4-1, at Xcel Energy Center.
Cody Franson, Patric Hornqvist and Joel Ward lit the lamp for the Predators, who snapped a five-game skid with their first road win in exactly two weeks.
“It was a real smart road game. We didn’t let them get too excited about anything,” said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. “It was a real solid effort all around. We had a good mentality from the start, and those first two goals gave us a real nice cushion.”
Chuck Kobasew provided the sole offense for the Wild, who have lost three of four. Niklas Backstrom played well in defeat, responsible for just two goals on 30 shots.
Rinne was 1:54 from recording a shutout, but Minnesota halved its deficit when Martin Havlat’s floater from the point was redirected home by Kobasew to make it 2-1.
Backstrom went to the bench with 90 seconds remaining, and shortly after Mikko Koivu’s chance in traffic was batted down, the Nashville clear went to Ward, who soloed to the empty net.
Sergei Kostitsyn then hit the vacant cage with 6.2 seconds to play.
“I think the spirit’s changing in here. Guys really don’t realize how we have to play night in and night out to be a successful team,” lamented Wild defenseman Greg Zanon. “It’s disappointing when you can’t complete your goals. We need wins, we need points to stay in the mix.”
Nashville got on the board just 4:23 into the contest, as Shane O’Brien dished to Franson for a successful shot from the slot.
It was 2-0 for the visitors with 9:32 left in the second period when Shea Weber’s right-point shot was deflected in front by Hornqvist.
Nashville stopped a two-game skid at Minnesota and posted just its sixth win all-time in St. Paul…Weber and David Legwand each recorded two assists for the Predators…Both clubs are in action on Sunday as the Preds host Columbus and the Wild welcome Phoenix.