Wild remain winless, lose Niklas Backstrom to injury in first period
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Filip Forsberg and Colin Wilson scored power-play goals 39 seconds apart in the first period, and the Nashville Predators earned their first win of the season with a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night in their home opener.
Eric Nystrom added his first career penalty shot goal all in the first period for Nashville, matching the goals the Predators had totaled in losing the first two games. Goalie Pekka Rinne made 32 saves.
Minnesota lost goalie Niklas Backstrom to a lower body injury in the first when Nystrom crashed into him after being tripped on a breakaway. The Wild said Backstrom will be evaluated Wednesday.
Josh Harding replaced Backstrom, but he gave up the goal to Nystrom.
Now that these teams are in the Central Division after realignment, these games mean much more than just the chance to boo former Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter who went to Minnesota as a free agent in July 2012 for a 13-year, $98 million deal. A sellout crowd booed Suter every time he was on the ice yet again.
Both teams came in having lost their first two games this season with the Wild dropping one in overtime and one in a shootout.
The Predators, who averaged the fewest shots on goal in the NHL last season, shot the puck better in losses at St. Louis and Colorado with few goals to show for the work. The Wild won the series last season 2-1-0.
The Wild went up 1-0 on a tip-in by Parise off a shot by Mikko Koivu off a cross-ice pass from Suter, taking advantage of a high-sticking penalty on rookie defenseman Seth Jones at 4:15 of the first.
But Kyle Brodziak went to the penalty box for interference against David Legwand at 4:15 followed by Koivu for tripping Jones 21 seconds later.
The Predators, who hadn't scored a power-play goal this season, made the Wild pay for the 5-on-3 with Forsberg scoring his first career NHL goal at 5:07 on a snap shot from the left circle off assists from Patric Hornqvist and Jones, with the rookie getting his first point.
Then Wilson went high over Backstrom's stick for his first goal of the season from the right circle at 5:46 for a 2-1 lead.
Then Wild defenseman Keith Ballard tripped Nystrom on a breakaway, and the Predators forward crashed into Backstrom, pushing the goalie's right leg into the post. A trainer walked out to Backstrom, who skated slowly to the bench before going to the locker room. Backstrom tied for the NHL lead with 24 wins last season and is Minnesota's franchise leader in wins, shutouts, shutout streak, games played, starts and minutes played.
That left Harding to go from the bench to defending a penalty shot, and Nystrom went over Harding's glove giving Nashville a 3-1 lead at 11:14 of the first.
The Wild pulled within 3-2 when Spurgeon scored his first this season on a power play with a wrister past Rinne at 7:26, and his goal came with 1 second left on the man advantage after Forsberg went to the box for hooking.
But the Wild couldn't beat Rinne again as the goalie stopped a final flurry that included a slap shot from Suter with 18 seconds left.© The Associated Press