Afternoon Delight: Wild scores early, beats Preds 5-2
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - On a day when millions of Americans woke up early to go shopping, the Minnesota Wild woke up early to go scoring.
With goals on three of its first nine shots, the Wild beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Friday afternoon, snapping a two-game losing streak, and showing offensive punch rarely seen this season.
By the opening minutes of the second period, the Wild had chased Predators starting goalie Pekka Rinnie, given a rude greeting to replacement Anders Lindback by scoring on the second shot he faced, and had reversed a recent trend of struggling to score at home.
It was the first afternoon game of the season for the Wild, and that was not the only unique thing seen on the ice. Aside from the 1,133 people with mustaches who set a world record after the game, backup goalie Jose Theodore made his first home start of the season, stopping 32 shots for the win, and Martin Havlat showed some of the offensive muscle that made him a star in Chicago, and had generally been so lacking during his time in Minnesota.
"Marty really stepped up his game," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "I don't know what it was, but maybe we have to have more one o'clock games. But Marty was great and this is what we need more of out of Marty."
Havlat had two goals and an assist in the win, giving him 14 points in his last 12 games, and continuing his career-long mastery of Nashville. He has now recorded 34 points against the Predators.
"It's always much easier to play the game when you're up like that," Havlat said of the early lead. "We were much better tonight than the last two games. We weren't perfect. There are still things we have to fix, but overall we were much better than the last two games."
That, of course, is an understatement, after the Wild was out-scored 11-3 in home losses to the Rangers and Flyers in their previous two outings.
Now it's time for a divisional road show, with games in Colorado on Saturday night and in Calgary on Monday night.
"Having lost our last two at home and getting ready to go on the road and play two division games, this was a really important game," Richards said.