ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — For the better part of the past week, the third period has been Jason Zucker’s time to shine.
Zucker scored the go-ahead goal with 2:55 left and the Minnesota Wild scored four goals in less than six minutes in the third to beat the Nashville Predators 6-4 on Thursday night.
Eric Staal and Jared Spurgeon each had a goal and two assists for Minnesota, which won its fourth straight.
On the winner, Mikko Koivu fought off a defenseman into the left corner and centered to Zucker in front. With two defenders nearby, his backhand shot beat Pekka Rinne.
It is his eighth goal in five games dating to Nov. 8 — the last seven coming in the final 20 minutes of a game.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “For me, I want to make sure that I’m just trying to create chances and get in on pucks and get pucks to the net at any point in the game. I guess they’re just happening to go in in the third period.”
Spurgeon added an empty-net goal. Matt Dumba, Ryan Suter and Nino Niederreiter also scored.
“You can’t be satisfied with playing 30 minutes a game because it’s going to come up and bite you as the season goes along, but I mean they can’t all be Picassos either,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk entered the game with a franchise-record shutout streak of 195 minutes, 5 seconds. That ended 49 seconds in when Ryan Johansen converted a pass from Filip Forsberg, the first goal allowed by Dubnyk on 108 shots. He finished with 26 saves.
Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Viktor Arvidsson also scored for Nashville, which lost for the first time in six games.
“We had a great first period, did a lot of good things and we had to continue playing like that. We let off the gas and you can’t do that in this league,” Johansen said.
Trailing 4-2 in the third, Suter tipped in Spurgeon’s shot after a feed from Staal with 6:56 to go.
Nearly two minutes later, Staal hustled in from the left circle to push a loose puck past Rinne after Marcus Foligno couldn’t handle a centering pass.
“I think sometimes you get a tendency to sit back a little bit when you’re up,” Josi said. “The best way to play defense is to be playing offense if you have the puck. We got to make sure if we’re up, we’ve got to keep playing and go for that next goal.”
Johansen’s goal was his first of the year after signing an eight-year, $64 million contract in July. He added two assists for his first multipoint game since opening night. He has 11 assists in 18 games.
Josi scored 5:31 into the second and Ekholm made it 3-0 seven minutes later after Minnesota didn’t get a shot during a 32-second two-man advantage. With the Wild still up a man, Ekholm intercepted a pass at the Predators’ blue line, went in alone, and beat Dubnyk on the stick side for Nashville’s first short-handed goal of the season.
It was also the first such goal allowed this season by Minnesota.
Niederreiter scored with the extra player with 38.3 seconds left in the second to get the Wild within 3-2, besting Rinne with a slap shot from the slot.
NOTES: Dumba had been the only Minnesota player to appear in every game but not score. … Nashville recalled G Anders Lindback from AHL Milwaukee and assigned G Juuse Saros to the Admirals. Lindback leads the AHL with eight wins. … The Wild is starting a stretch where it plays seven games in 12 days.
Nashville: Starts a three-game homestand Saturday night against Colorado.
Minnesota: Plays at Washington on Saturday night.
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