ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Martin Havlat scored twice, and the Minnesota Wild scored on four of their first 11 shots to beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Friday.
Marek Zidlicky, Andrew Brunette and Nick Schultz also scored for Minnesota, which ended a two-game slide. The Wild had scored just 13 goals in its previous eight home games, not more than two in any of those. Jose Theodore stopped 32 shots for the win.
Steve Sullivan and Martin Erat scored for Nashville, which has scored just three times in its past three games. The Predators had allowed only four goals in its previous four games.
In an effort to shake things up offensively, Wild coach Todd Richards moved recently acquired Patrick O’Sullivan to the top line with Mikko Koivu and Brunette. O’Sullivan scored the only goal in Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to Philadelphia.
The change paid off because Minnesota was more aggressive from the start than it was in its past two games, when it was outscored 11-3.
Pinching in from the right point, Zidlicky, who missed Wednesday’s game with a leg injury, carried the puck out of the corner, shot it off the side of the net while cutting in front, and put his own rebound past Pekka Rinne at 12:22.
Camped in front of the net, Brunette scored at 15:57 by fighting off Nashville’s Shea Weber for two rebound attempts before the Wild left wing fluttered a backhand past Rinne.
Madden fired a slapshot off the post about 40 seconds later, before Havlat made it 3-0 at 18:12. He cut through the right circle, fought off a check from Colin Wilson and slid the puck past Rinne. Havlat has 13 goals and 21 assists against Nashville in his career, the most points against an opponent.
Anders Lindback replaced Rinne to start the second period, and was greeted rudely when Schultz scored on a rebound 48 seconds in. Havlat took the puck away from Ryan Suter at the Predators’ blue line to start the play.
Theodore, making his first home start since signing as a free agent Oct. 2 after Josh Harding tore his ACL and MCL, made his best saves midway through the second period. He tried to clear the puck around his net, but it took a strange hop off the boards to Joel Ward at the edge of the crease. Theodore slid across for a pad stop and made a glove save on a rebound from the slot by Erat.
Sullivan scored on the power play early in the third period.
Havlat tipped a pass from Cullen into the Nashville net with 5:58 to play for his 30th career multi-goal game, and Erat scored on the power play with 8.5 seconds left. Nashville has three power-play goals in its last 34 chances.
NOTES: Minnesota last scored five even-strength goals in a game on Jan. 27, 2009, against Toronto. … Minnesota has played a matinee home game the day after Thanksgiving each year in franchise history, going 7-2-1. … The Predators started the season 5-0-3, but are 4-8-1 since. … Nashville had not allowed a third-period goal in its previous six games.
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Jose Theodore Interview, NewsRadio 830 WCCO
Martin Havlat Interview, NewsRadio 830 WCCO
Todd Richards Interview, NewsRadio 830 WCCO