Kulikov scores in OT, Wild win 5th straight, 5-4 over Preds
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Dmitry Kulikov scored with 1.3 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.
Joel Eriksson Ek had two power-play goals and an assist, Nick Bjugstad and Kevin Fiala also scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves for Minnesota. The Wild have won five straight as they battle with the St. Louis Blues for second place in the Central Division and home ice for the teams’ first-round playoff series.
“It’s just a real good all-around game,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We did so many really good things in that hockey game that allowed us to have that opportunity to win.”
Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists, and Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Dante Fabbro also scored for Nashville. David Rittich made 42 saves and Mikael Granlund had three assists for the Predators, who have lost three of four but remain in the top wild-card position in the Western Conference. Nashville moved one point ahead of Dallas in the standings.
“I thought our guys really battled hard tonight,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “We earned a point. We’d like to get two points, but we’ve got to take some things out of it and get ready for Calgary.”
With time winding down in the extra period, Kulikov took a pass from Eriksson Ek, drove down the left side and beat Rittich with a wrist shot.
“I don’t get many of them, so I’ve got to make sure when I get them,” Kulikov said.
Bjugstad scored the game’s first goal at 11:05 of the opening period, but Forsberg answered with 2 seconds remaining in the first. Mikael Granlund threw a cross-ice saucer pass to Dante Fabbro on the right side. The puck hit Fabbro, then the goal post, and was sitting in the crease where Forsberg poked it in for his 40th goal of the season.
Eriksson Ek made it 2-1 at 6:36 of the second. Nashville challenged the play, alleging goaltender interference because Wild defenseman Jacob Middleton was in the crease when the goal was scored. Officials allowed the goal to stand after a video review, determining that Middleton had been pushed by a Nashville player.
“I think we’ve shown all year everybody can score, everybody can help any way they are asked to,” Eriksson Ek said. “It’s good for our team to have that depth.”
Duchene and Johansen scored power-play goals 2:58 apart in the second to give Nashville a brief 3-2 lead.
Eriksson Ek scored his second power-play goal of the game at 18:27 and Fiala followed with 22.8 seconds left in the period to send the Wild into the second intermission with a 4-3 lead.
“I felt in the start we had the momentum,” Fiala said. “You can see the shots. I think we pretty much dominated the whole game.”
Fabbro scored with 5:40 left in the third to tie it.
Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon suffered an upper-body injury in the first period. Forsberg checked an off-balance Spurgeon into the boards in the Minnesota zone. Spurgeon skated off, went directly to the dressing room and did not return.
“I’d love to say we kept him out, but we didn’t. He was hurt,” Evason said. “We’ll obviously evaluate, but there was no way he was going back in the game.”
Forsberg joined Duchene as the only players in Predators history to score 40 goals in a season. Duchene notched his 40th in Nashville’s win over Calgary on Tuesday. His goal Sunday was his 41st.
Viktor Arvidsson previously had the most goals in a season by a Nashville player (34 in 2018-19).
Fiala extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games. He has 10 goals and 13 assists over that span.
Wild winger Matt Boldy had an assist, extending his career-high point-scoring streak to nine games. The stretch is a rookie franchise record for Minnesota.
Predators: Host Calgary on Tuesday.
Wild: Host Arizona on Tuesday, beginning a three-game homestand to close out the regular season.
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