Zucker has 2 goals, assist as Wild beat Predators 5-2

Jason Zucker scored two goals and added an assist as the Minnesota Wild beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Saturday night.

Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu each had a goal and assist, and Eric Staal scored into an empty net as the Western Conference-leading Wild surpassed last season's total with their 39th win. Devan Dubnyk made 37 saves.

Minnesota, which is 6-1-1 in its past eight games, has a nine-point lead over Chicago in the Central Division and is one point back of Washington for the most points in the NHL. The Wild are 12-1-3 in their last 16 games against division foes.

Colin Wilson and P.K. Subban scored for Nashville, which played for the first time after its mandatory five-day break.

Since becoming a line on Nov. 25, Zucker, Koivu and Granlund have combined for 110 points. The Wild are 29-6-4 since then.

In front to take advantage of an awkward bounce off the boards and side of the net, Koivu notched his 600th career point with a goal 35 seconds into the third period for a 3-0 lead.

It proved to be the game-winner after the Predators charged back.

Wilson scored on a rebound midway through the period and Subban scored on a slap shot just more than two minutes later. Referees initially waved off Subban's goal for goaltender interference by James Neal, but a video review showed the contact occurred after the puck was past Dubnyk.

Zucker scored unassisted on a breakaway with 3:19 to play, and Staal added an empty-net goal.

Knowing the Predators hadn't played since Sunday, Minnesota wanted to strike early.

Granlund did just that off a scramble, putting a rebound behind Pekka Rinne for a power-play goal 2:38 into the game.

Nashville, which took three penalties in the first eight minutes and has allowed six power-play goals in its last three games, nearly tied it during the second penalty kill, but Ryan Ellis missed on a short-handed breakaway.

Zucker got his 100th career point with a goal late in the second period, converting a feed from Granlund, who passed around a sliding Subban. Granlund has 22 points in his last 19 games.

NOTES: Wild RW Nino Niederreiter established a career high with his 24th assist. ... Minnesota activated D Jonas Brodin off injured reserve. He missed 14 games with a broken finger. . Nashville recalled LW Kevin Fiala from Milwaukee of the AHL. He did not play. . The Predators began a stretch of 26 games in 50 days to finish the regular season.


Nashville: At the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

Minnesota: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday in the seventh game of an eight-game homestand, the longest in franchise history.