Surging Preds cap road trip in Minnesota
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Nashville Predators look to wrap a three-game road trip perfect on Tuesday night as they visit the struggling Minnesota Wild for the second time this season.
The Preds lost three of four to begin the season -- the lone victory in that span coming at home versus the Wild on Oct. 8 after they lost their first two road contests of the campaign -- but have since going 4-0-1. That includes victories in Montreal and Winnipeg on back-to-back nights to open this swing.
Pekka Rinne made 28 saves in a 2-1 win over the Canadiens on Saturday, then got his first game off when the Predators visited the Jets the following night. Carter Hutton made his second career start and posted 37 saves to win his first NHL game.
"When I do get a chance to play, I need to find ways to win. That's what they brought me in for," said the 27-year-old Hutton, who made his NHL debut with one start with the Chicago Blackhawks last season.
Hutton had made one previous appearance this season when he relieved Rinne on Oct. 3 in St. Louis.
Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom and Patric Hornqvist backed Hutton's strong performance with a goal apiece in the second period.
Nashville never trailed versus Winnipeg after needing Seth Jones' tally with 1:27 to play on Saturday night to beat Montreal and coach Barry Trotz thought his club's effort in that game carried over the following night.
"(Saturday) we really worked hard and couldn't get a break and finally we get the win at the end," said Trotz. "But you keep working hard, I always say that there are hockey gods. If you keep doing the right things over and over again, they might not reward you today, but they're going to reward you down the road."
Rinne should return to net tonight and is 9-3-2 with three shutouts and a 2.08 goals against average in his career versus the Wild.
Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo, meanwhile, thought his club deserved better on Saturday in a 2-1 shootout loss to the hosting Florida Panthers. Josh Harding made 21 saves through overtime, but was scored on by both Panther skaters while Zack Parise and Mikko Koivu failed on their attempts for the Wild.
Jonas Brodin had the regulation goal for Minnesota, which has lost three straight, the first two in regulation.
"We're playing great defensively and playing our tails off," said Yeo. "You can see it's getting in the guys heads, because we're working real hard and not getting rewarded."
Minnesota was left pointless when it faced the Predators in Nashville on Oct. 8. The Preds got three first-period goals from Filip Forsberg, Colin Wilson and Eric Nystrom, who capped the surge with a successful penalty shot.
Rinne made 32 saves.
Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored for the Wild and starter Niklas Backstrom was forced out late in the first period with a right leg injury following a collision in the goalmouth.
Backstrom missed four games with the ailment before returning, while Harding allowed one goal on 20 shots in relief.
Harding, who has posted a 1.11 GAA in seven games this season, could get the call again tonight and is 4-6-1 with a 2.76 GAA in 11 games against the Predators.
Nashville is 5-0-2 in its last seven versus Minnesota and has won eight of the previous 11 encounters overall.