ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Bruce Boudreau didn’t want anyone making a big deal about his 500th career win as an NHL coach. With a tightening playoff race, his Minnesota Wild have other things to worry about.
So the Wild made sure to take care of business against the Western Conference’s top team before acknowledging their coach’s impressive milestone.
“That’s a lot of wins,” Devan Dubnyk said after making 19 saves in Minnesota’s 4-1 win. “He’s had a ton of success everywhere he’s went. You look and it follows him around. That’s exciting for him, and we’ll get a chance to get a win tomorrow and hopefully get 501.”
In 837 games, Boudreau became the second-fastest NHL coach all-time to win 500 games — Scotty Bowman did it in 825. Not that Boudreau was interested in talking about it.
“I think in the summer it’ll be when I’m with family, that’ll be pretty cool, but right now let’s focus on the game and the team,” he said.
Jason Zucker scored his 30th goal and added an assist for the Wild. Joel Eriksson Ek, Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise also scored as Minnesota overcame a slow first period to outwork the Predators and hand them a second straight loss.
“It’s going to come down to the wire, for sure, so we need to take these wins and run with them,” Zucker said.
After taking only six shots in the opening period, the Wild offense outshot Nashville 24-11 the rest of the way to start a crucial stretch of three games in four days.
Pekka Rinne had 26 saves and Ryan Johansen scored his 13th goal for Nashville, which couldn’t rebound from a loss at home to Toronto on Thursday that snapped a four-game win streak and franchise-record 15-game point streak.
“I thought we started the game really well. We came out and dictated the pace and then for whatever reason got away from it,” Johansen said.
The Predators, who also saw their franchise-record nine-game road winning streak stopped, hadn’t lost two straight since mid-February — right before they rolled to 10 straight victories en route to securing a playoff spot.
“Even before we had some games where we won the games, but we didn’t play up to our potential and it’s kind of been creeping in. It was definitely a wakeup call against Toronto and tonight, too,” Roman Josi said.
Nashville nursed a 1-0 lead after Johansen’s goal at the 8:37 mark of the first period. But things changed quickly after the first — Minnesota outshot Nashville 14-5 in a second period that saw Eriksson Ek’s fifth goal of the season, followed by Niederreiter’s 18th at 13:45.
Zucker beat Rinne’s glove side at 1:29 of the third period to give Minnesota some breathing room, and Parise added an empty-netter with 1:41 to play.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette was ejected late in the third period shortly after arguing a boarding call against Scott Hartnell.
“Hartnell made a hit on a guy that had the puck that didn’t hit the boards and then he got bulldozed and cross-checked and everything else and we lost our power play,” Laviolette said.
NOTES: Nashville D Yannick Weber left the ice seven minutes into the first period after taking a crushing hit from Marcus Foligno. He did not return to the bench. L Austin Watson also wasn’t on the bench in the third period. Laviolette said he didn’t have updates on either player .. C Mike Fisher was a healthy scratch. … The Predators lost for the fourth time in regulation this season when scoring first, and for only the third time when leading after the first period. … Nashville’s last regulation road loss was Jan. 2 at Las Vegas. … Zucker joined Eric Staal (39) in Minnesota’s 30-goal club this season. It’s the first time in 10 years Minnesota has had two 30-goal scorers. … The Wild have beaten Nashville four straight times in St. Paul since Feb. 18, 2017. … Foligno’s assist on Eriksson Ek’s goal was his 23rd point this season, tying his career high. . The announced crowd of 19,303 was Minnesota’s largest of the season.
Predators: At Winnipeg on Sunday.
Wild: Host Boston on Sunday.
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