The Minnesota Wild are on an early roll.
The Wild will look to extend their season-opening winning streak to five games when they play host to the Nashville Predators on Sunday in St. Paul, Minn.
Ryan Hartman scored with 13 seconds remaining in overtime as the Wild defeated the visiting Anaheim Ducks 4-3 Saturday.
Brandon Duhaime notched his first NHL goal and Jared Spurgeon and Jon Merrill also tallied for Minnesota. Goaltender Cam Talbot made 21 saves as the Wild opened a season with four or more victories for the fourth time in their history. They started 6-0-0 in 2006-07, 5-0-0 in 2007-08 and 4-0-0 in 2008-09.
Merrill, a defenseman who signed with the Wild as a free agent in the offseason, scored the tying goal midway through the second period. It was his first goal since Feb. 8, 2020, while with the Vegas Golden Knights.
“We’re having a lot of fun as a group right now, it’s a good group of guys,” Merrill said. “… Winning helps all that, and we’re just looking to keep this streak going.
“There’s a lot of belief in our group, so I think whether we’re down or we’re up, the message is pretty much the same. Once we get to our game, which I think is the offensive zone, getting in on the forecheck, kind of seeking their D and our big, heavy forwards turning pucks over, and we kind of get the spin cycle going and we get things moving around in the offensive zone, we’ve had some success that way early on. So we know that once we get to that game, we can play with anyone in the league.”
Remarkably, Minnesota has allowed the first goal in every game this season.
“Obviously, we’d like to start with a lead, but again we love our resilience,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “I think it’s just who they are, right? … We were happy with the end of it.”
The Predators suffered a 6-4 loss at Winnipeg on Saturday in their first road game of the season.
Nick Cousins had a goal and two assists for Nashville and goalie Juuse Saros made 23 saves.
“Not good enough,” Cousins said. “I think defensively, we’re just doing it to ourselves. I think through the neutral zone we had the puck on our stick and we’re trying to go east-west more so than north-south. …
“I don’t think it’s a work ethic thing or anything tactical system-wise. It’s just, I feel like, it’s on ourselves. I think the more we play simple, that’s kind of the recipe for success for our team. It’s not overly complicated.”
Cousins cut the Predators’ deficit to 3-2 in the second but they allowed a goal with 11 seconds remaining in the period and couldn’t recover.
“We can’t give them gifts like that,” Predators coach John Hynes said.
One positive for Nashville was the power play, which went 2-for-4.
“I like the fact that we were able to score four,” Hynes said. “If you score four you should be able to win the game, but we had some breakdowns that went in the back of the net.”
–Field Level Media