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Updated: December 28th, 2011 11:24pm
Wild rally in Nashville, but lose eighth straight in shootout

Wild rally in Nashville, but lose eighth straight in shootout

by Marley McMillan
1500ESPN.com
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On a late third period goal by Dany Heatley, the Minnesota Wild rallied from behind to snag a point but eventually fell 2-1 in a shootout to the Nashville Predators for their eighth straight loss on Wednesday night in Tennessee.

The skinny

Colin Wilson scored the lone shootout goal that decided the score in favor of the Predators after Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard missed for the Wild.

Heatley evened the score with four minutes remaining in regulation after Jonathon Blum scored the first goal of the game to give the Predators a 1-0 lead with 13 minutes left to play in the third period.

Prior to Blum's goal, the game had been a goaltending duel between Predators' goaltender Pekka Rinne and Wild's Josh Harding, who had come away with a win against the Predators earlier this season (Nov. 23).

The Wild outshot the Predators 35-25.

Right winger Jon DiSalvatore made his debut in a Wild jersey in the game, and his first appearance in an NHL game in over five years. He is currently a member of the Houston Aeros.

Predators' captain and points leader Shea Weber did not compete in the game, out indefinitely with a concussion.

As they did against the Avalanche in their previous contest -- in which Koivu made his return after missing three games due to a leg injury -- the Wild started strong, outshooting the Predators 22-15 going into the third period.

Former Predator defenseman Greg Zanon - who has been in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch -- was a spark for the Wild in the defensive effort, laying out on the ice to block a Predators' power play shot early in the second period and later poking the puck away on a dangerous 2-on-1 opportunity.

Blum scored on a wrist shot from the blue line that made its way untouched through traffic and past Harding's blocker with 13 minutes remaining in the final frame.

Heatley tied it up with a wraparound to the right of Rinne's net at 16:01 of the third period.

The Wild outshot the Predators 4-0 in overtime.

Shooting first for the Wild in the shootout, Cullen lost control of the puck in the slot and did not get a shot off. Koivu missed on an in-close shot and Bouchard, after a nifty spinorama, could not fully grasp the puck and it sailed wide of the net.

Turning point

The arrival of the shootout.

The Wild have lost their last two shootouts, losses included in their now eight game losing streak. The Wild outshot the Predators 4-0 in overtime in what looked like a deliberate effort to avoid the shootout.

But the shootout came, and it went as the Wild might have expected.

While the Wild's first shooter, Cullen, lost the puck and watched it dribble into the corner, Predators' Wilson powered toward the net and sent a decisive puck past Harding's glove for the game-winning goal.

Numbers game

• 0: wins by the Wild in their first of back-to-back games this season (0-6-0).
• 13: pipes hit by Kyle Brodziak this season, second highest by any player in the NHL.
• 15: points by Koivu in his last 16 games.
• 29: team-leading points by Predators' captain defenseman Shea Weber, who did not compete Wednesday, out indefinitely with a concussion. Koivu has 30.
• 2,122: days since DiSalvatore's last NHL game on 3/7/06, a span of five years, nine months and 21 days. He skated in five games with the St. Louis Blues in 2005-2006

Health watch

Spurgeon (lower body) missed his first game of the season on Wednesday. Clayton Stoner (lower body), Devin Setoguchi (lower body), Casey Wellman (upper body) and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) all remain on injured reserve.

Summary

First period
No scoring.

Second period
No scoring.

Third period
Predators - Jonathon Blum (unassisted), 7:00
Wild - Dany Heatley (N. Prosser, M. Koivu), 16:01

Overtime
No scoring.

Shootout
Wild - Matt Cullen - 0, Mikko Koivu - 0, Pierre-Marc Bouchard - 0
Predators - Colin Wilson - X, Craig Smith - 0

Shots: Wild 11-11-9-4-35; Predators 10-5-10-0-25. Saves: Wild, Josh Harding (24-25); Predators, Pekka Rinne (34-35). Power plays: Wild 0-for-3, Predators 0-for-2.

Three stars

1. Pekka Rinne
2. Josh Harding
3. Jonathon Blum

Coming up

The Wild will return to Minnesota to play the second of the back-to-back games and the first of a two game homestead against the Edmonton Oilers at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

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