Turris scores lone goal in shootout as Preds beat Wild 2-1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The checklist for the Nashville Predators is getting shorter as the regular season winds down.
Kyle Turris scored the only goal in the shootout to lift the Predators over the Minnesota Wild 2-1 Tuesday night to snap a three-game skid.
The win clinched the defending Western Conference champions home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The franchise’s first Central Division title also is in reach, with Nashville leading Winnipeg by five points for both the top seed in the West and in the division with six games remaining apiece. Nashville wrapped up its division schedule by going 18-5-3.
“We took another step closer tonight to achieving that goal and keep on getting wins, and finish as high as we can,” Predators forward Scott Hartnell said. “It’s just been great efforts the whole year long, and especially tonight a big effort by everybody.”
Nashville also moved three points ahead of Tampa Bay in the chase for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Predators visit Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Roman Josi scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 22 saves.
Rinne turned away Nino Niederreiter in the shootout. Zach Parise’s attempt went wide left, and Rinne stopped Mikko Koivu to clinch it.
“I thought it was our best game for a while now,” Josi said. “I thought we played really well. I thought we played really well defensively, they didn’t have too many chances, and (Rinne) was there for us whenever they did have a chance. I thought it was a complete effort from us, and it’s good to be back in the win column.”
Eric Staal tied it for Minnesota with 3:15 left on his 40th goal this season.
Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves as Minnesota snapped a five-game point streak. The Wild still won the season series against Nashville, 3-2.
“It was a great point,” said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau with Minnesota third in the Central and three points ahead of St. Louis. “That’s, right now, they are the best team in the league, and we played them inch for inch.”
The Predators thought they had scored 40 seconds into overtime on a slap shot by Ryan Ellis. Minnesota challenged for offside, and the goal was overturned on review because Turris’ right skate was a few inches ahead of the puck past the blue line.
“I was right on the line on the bench and I figured it might be offside, but great job of still getting it done after,” Josi said of the erased goal.
Rinne stopped Staal twice in overtime, and Mikael Granlund hit the far post with 1:07 left.
Turris shot first for Nashville in the shootout, and he skated up before going across the slot and beating Dubnyk stick-side .
Nashville returned home for three games mired in a skid that matched its longest this season. Playing in front of the 99th consecutive sold-out crowd didn’t hurt as the Predators improved to 26-8-4 in the place known as Smashville.
The Predators came out throwing pucks at Dubnyk, and Josi put Nashville up 1-0 with a slap shot from the point off the faceoff that went under Dubnyk’s glove 2:51 into the game.
Jordan Greenway made his NHL debut after finishing his college career at Boston University and signing a three-year entry level deal with Minnesota. Greenway was welcomed by a big check from Hartnell midway through the first period.
“This is a tough game ... for a young man’s career, but I thought he handled it well,” Boudreau said of Greenway.
Nashville missed plenty of chances to pad its lead, going scoreless on four man advantages through the first two periods.
Staal tied it by beating Rinne’s left skate inside the post.
NOTES: Staal joined Gordie Howe as the only players to go at least nine years between 40-goal seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Howe went 12 seasons between his 44 goals in 1956-57 and 44 goals in 1968-69. Staal scored 40 in 2008-09, and this is his third 40-goal season. ... Nashville won its most divisional games since also winning 18 in 2007-08. ... Turris now has six goals on 13 shots in the shootout this season.
Wild: Host Dallas on Thursday night.
Predators: Host Sharks on Thursday night.
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