But on Thursday, Niederreiter sent a slap shot in overtime
between Josi's skates and into the net, lifting the Wild to a 3-2
win over the Predators.
"I'm not happy with him tonight. Definitely not," quipped Josi of
his friend and countryman. "It was a good play by him."
Defenseman Jonas Brodin and left winger Zach Parise also scored for
Minnesota (31-21-7) as the Wild extended their home winning streak
to five in their final game before the Olympic break. Niederreiter
said he may offer Josi some good-natured ribbing about the play when
they get to Russia.
"I might mention it to him right now, but I'm not sure if he'll be
happy about it," Niederreiter said, after notching his 11th goal of
the season. "At the same time, it was a big win for us and we needed
those points. It felt like a playoff game out there because it was a
pretty tough one."
Center Craig Smith scored twice and goaltender Carter Hutton made 33
saves for the Predators (25-23-10), who were shut out in their two
previous games against Minnesota. Nashville is now 6-2-3 in its past
"We grind them out," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "Vancouver
lost, so we gained some ground. That's all we have to do. Every
night you've got to find a way to get a point, two points. We've
gotten points in nine of the last 11 games."
Brodin opened the scoring with his first goal of 2014 and eighth of
the season, ripping a low shot past Hutton from the left circle.
Nashville answered less than two minutes later when Minnesota goalie
Darcy Kuemper stopped a long-range shot by Smith and thought the
puck was covered. In reality, the puck was loose in the crease,
where Smith was able to chase it down and bat it into the net.
"It was similar to a receiver looking down in football before he
catches the ball," Kuemper said. "I was just looking to make the
play before I obviously had it and cushioned it, so I took my eye
off it for a second and the rebound was there, and obviously a bad
goal. I'm just happy it didn't cost us tonight."
Parise gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead later in the first, scoring on a
power play after a quick pass from left winger Dany Heatley in
traffic. In the second period, Smith re-tied the game for Nashville,
re-directing a shot by defenseman Victor Bartley past Kuemper.
Kuemper, making his 12th consecutive start — a franchise record for
a rookie — stopped 16 shots while improving to 8-3-2.
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"I was real impressed with our guys, the way that they approached
this game," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I asked them for a
playoff-type mentality coming into the game, and that's a lot to ask
for in February when you're about to go on a long break, but they
It was a tough day, health-wise, for the Predators before they took
At the team's morning skate, TV play-by-play voice Pete Weber was
rushed to a St. Paul hospital after suffering a heart attack.
At roughly the same time, a second crew of paramedics came to the
arena to attend to Predators general manager David Poile. Watching
practice from the tunnel near the Predators bench, Poile was struck
in the face by an errant puck, suffering a fractured eye socket.
"I came in just as they were wheeling (Poile) out," Trotz said. "I
saw him in the trainer's room and they put him on the stretcher to
take him out. I didn't think he felt like talking. David is staying
overnight at the hospital and obviously Pete will too. I don't know
much more than that."
Poile is also the general manager for Team USA at the Winter
Olympics, but it was unknown whether the injury would prevent him
from traveling to Russia.
NOTES: Wild G Niklas Backstrom, dealing with abdominal soreness, was
unable to dress for practice on Thursday, prompting Minnesota to
recall G Johan Gustafsson from Iowa of the AHL. ... Olympians from
both teams were honored on the ice before the game. In Sochi, Team
Canada will include Predators D Shea Weber; Team Switzerland will
include Predators C Simon Moser, Predators D Roman Josi and Wild RW
Nino Niederreiter; Team Finland will include Wild C Mikael Granlund
and Wild C Mikko Koivu; and Team USA will include Wild D Ryan Suter
and Wild LW Zach Parise. ... Predators C Matt Cullen played Thursday
after missing the previous four games because of an upper-body
injury. ... The Wild wore their white road sweaters at home for just
the second time this season. With Minnesota experiencing a
colder-than-normal winter, it was dubbed "Polar Vortex Night" at the
arena. All ticket-buyers received a white Wild t-shirt. ... The
Predators have one more game before the Olympic break, hosting the
Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Minnesota's next game is Feb. 27 against
the Oilers in Edmonton.
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