NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Joel Ward had a goal and an assist while the Nashville Predators blew open the game with three goals in the third period to beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight victory.
Nick Spaling scored two goals in the third, and Marcel Goc also added an unassisted goal in the period. David Legwand also had a goal. Goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 25 shots.
The Predators scored so fast in the third they chased Jose Theodore after Spaling's second goal at 10:39 of the third. Theodore had been the NHL's third star after going 3-1 with a .946 save percentage last week.
Mikko Koivu scored a goal for Minnesota, which now has lost two straight after a four-game winning streak of its own. The Wild also lost on the road in regulation for the first time since a 6-2 loss Dec. 12 at Anaheim.
These teams split the first two games in Minnesota, but the Predators got this streak going Dec. 31 with a 4-1 win over the Wild and just kept going Tuesday night in their first home game since completing a three-game sweep in California on Saturday night.
Legwand put Nashville up 1-0 tipping in a shot from Marek Svatos on a give-and-go in front of Jose Theodore at 7:03 of the first period. It was just Legwand's fourth goal this season, making the crowd of 15,311 very happy on a cold night with icy roads still such a problem that local schools won't open Wednesday.
The Wild tied it up, scoring on a breakaway just as a Nashville power play ended. Koivu scored his 11th this season with a backhander off an assist from John Madden at 16:05.
Ward put Nashville ahead to stay at 2-1 just 62 seconds into the second period. Theodore had just stopped a shot when Ward backhanded the puck underneath the goalie's outstretched glove for his fifth this season off an assist from Kevin Klein.
The Wild have been the league's fourth-best with the man advantage on the road this season, and they had two power plays later in the second to tie it up. But Nashville is the NHL's best at killing penalties at home, and the Wild went 0-for-3 with the advantage.
Rinne helped killed the two in the second off almost back to back, including gloving a slap shot from Matt Cullen at the blue line with another nice stop on Kyle Brodziak in front.
Spaling padded the margin at 4:28 of the third, scoring his third with a wrister from near the boards through traffic that beat Theodore gloveside. But when Spaling scored off a rebound on captain Shea Weber's shot, pushing the puck in at the post, that was enough for Theodore to head to the bench.
He was replaced by Anton Khubodin with Niklas Backstrom scratched with his hip injury. Goc beat him with a wrister from the edge of the right circle at 12:53.
Notes: Koivu now has eight points in his last nine games against Nashville with 3 goals and 5 assists. ... Nashville improved to 15-1-4 when scoring first. ... Weber, named to the All-Star roster earlier Tuesday, now has a point (2 goals, 8 assists) in each of the six weeks for a career high. Nashville is 11-1-1 when he has a point. ... Nashville F Sergei Kostitsyn snapped a streak in which he had scored a goal in five straight games.