Just 18 days ago, the Minnesota Wild won its seventh straight game and was sitting in first place in the entire NHL.
Since, it has lost eight straight, including Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena, and fallen into a tie for the division lead.
The Wild (20-12-6) outplayed the Predators and deserved to win the game, but could not solve Pekka Rinne until late in the third period.
Rinne had a 159 minute and 56 second shutout streak against the Wild in Nashville until Dany Heatley tied the game with 3:59 remaining in the game.
After Mikko Koivu set Nate Prosser up for a good scoring chance, Heatley grabbed the puck and tucked a backhand wraparound just inside the post.
Since returning from a lower body injury, Koivu has an assist in both games.
Predator defenseman Jonathon Blum sent a wrist shot from the point that glanced off Jordin Tootoo and past Josh Harding to break scoreless tie at the 7:00 minute mark of the third period.
The Predators (19-14-4) got one goal in two shootout attempts to get the win.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard was the final hope for the Wild, but his spin-o-rama attempt slid wide off his stick. After the attempt, he immediately talked to the referee. I believe he was talking about a possible interference violation on Rinne. Bouchard had Rinne beat easily, but as he spun Rinne reached up and got a piece of Bouchard’s stick, which caused him to lose control of the puck.
The NHL rule book states if a player interferes with another player’s penalty shot attempt, another attempt shall be awarded.
The referees felt no violation occurred and Bouchard was not awarded a second attempt.
The Wild are tied with the Vancouver Canucks atop the Northwest Division, but the Canucks have the tiebreaker because it has played two less games.
Only the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 2-6-2 record have fewer wins than the Wild, who are 2-5-3, in the last 10 games.
No. 3 – Colin Wilson. The Predators forward scored the only goal in the shootout.
No. 2 – Dany Heatley. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 1 – Pekka Rinne. The Predators goaltender stopped 34 shots and did not allow a goal in the shootout.
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 – 1
Nashville 0 0 1 0 – 2
First Period – None. Penalties – None.
Second Period – None. Penalties – Prosser, Min (hooking), 2:55; Smithson, Nash (hooking); 6:41; Bench, Min (too many men), 8:15 (served by Gillies).
Third Period – 1, Nashville, Tootoo 6 (Blum, Bouillon), 7:00. 2, Minnesota, Heatley 11 (Prosser, Koivu), 16:01. Penalties – Tootoo, Nash (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:30; Disalvatore, Min (cross checking), 18:18.
Overtime – None. Penalties – None.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 11-11-9-4 35. Nashville 10-5-10-0 25.
Shootout – Minnesota Cullen (missed), Koivu (saved), Bouchard (missed). Nashville Wilson (goal), Smith (missed).
Goalies – Minnesota, Harding (24-25). Nashville, Rinne (34-35). A – N/A. Referees – Marc Joannette, Rob Martell. Linesmen – Shane Heyer, Darren Gibbs.