ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Ryan Hartman knocked in a rebound to put Minnesota ahead with 21 seconds left, just 26 seconds after Nino Niederreiter tied the game for Nashville, and the Wild beat the Predators 4-3 on Sunday.
Kirill Kaprizov scored twice and Brandon Duhaime had the first goal for Minnesota, which won — barely — in regulation for the first time in 13 games since Jan. 17.
Tommy Novak and Roman Josi each scored for Nashville and assisted on Niederreiter’s goal that momentarily took some lift out of Filip Gustavsson’s recent surge in the Wild net.
But Gustavsson, who stopped 23 shots, still managed to improve to 9-1-1 in his last 11 home starts despite the late lapse. Josi scored with 4:56 remaining to pull the Predators within 3-2.
Novak also got them within one goal by scoring late in the second period.
Kaprizov had already given Gustavsson and the Wild enough to go on. The All-Star left wing reignited the crowd at the 1:23 mark of the third period when he tracked down an outlet pass from Hartman to start a breakaway and snapped an uncontested shot past the glove of Juuse Saros.
Kaprizov, who scored earlier on a power-play rebound after Joel Eriksson Ek redirected a slap shot by Mats Zuccarello, is eighth in the NHL with 33 goals. Kaprizov had a game-high six shots on goal.
Saros made 31 saves.
The Wild sharpened up their game this week after an ominous stretch when they lost six of eight without any regulation wins. They’ve been struggling to get even-strength goals, or any scoring beyond top scorers Kaprizov, Eriksson Ek and Zuccarello, but Gustavsson has provided a vital source of confidence and crept ahead of veteran Marc-Andre Fleury on the depth chart.
After backstopping a 2-1 shootout win over Central Division leader Dallas on Friday, Gustavsson got the call for his fifth start in seven games. The 24-year-old has had the best goals against average and save percentage among NHL goalies with at least 10 starts over the last three months, and he’s 13-4-1 in that stretch.
The Predators badly needed this win for a boost in the Western Conference wild card race, now trailing the Wild (30-21-5) by seven points for the last spot with Calgary in between.
The Predators played at home the day before, posting a 7-3 win over Florida, and they were sluggish after the short turnaround. They didn’t get a single shot on goal over the first third of the first period, and after Kaprizov was called for hooking to trigger a power play they yielded two different short-handed breakaways to the Wild.
Saros saved them with a pair of pad saves to deny Eriksson Ek and later Connor Dewar. Mason Shaw’s one-timed rebound of Dewar’s shot on that second breakaway was blocked in traffic.
The Wild had nothing to show for their commanding start at the first intermission, but their reward came just 9 seconds into the second period. Frederick Gaudreau’s shot was deflected by a screening Duhaime down low, sending the puck scraping across the shoulder of Saros and into the net. That tied a Wild record for the fastest goal in a second period in team history.
Novak, one of two Predators playing in their native city of St. Paul along with defenseman Ryan McDonagh, had two goals for Nashville on Saturday.
Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin left halfway through the third period after taking an inadvertent high stick to the face from Niederreiter, his former teammate. Brodin was dripping blood as he skated off the ice for treatment before returning. Niederreiter got a double minor penalty.
Predators: Host Vancouver on Tuesday, their first of two home games in an 11-game, 23-day stretch.
Wild: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday to wrap up a seven-game homestand.
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