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Cullen scores winning goal in shootout, lifts Wild over Predators 2-1

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - That famed southern hospitality didn't extend to Ryan Suter in his return to Nashville.

Matt Cullen scored the shootout-winning goal to give the Minnesota Wild a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

The Wild, who have won two of three, sent Nashville to its fourth loss in five games.

Cullen and Wild captain Mikko Koivu both scored in the shootout. Craig Smith was the only Nashville shooter to score in the tiebreaker against Niklas Backstrom.

"It was a positive step forward for us," Cullen said. "We stuck with our game and continued to battle and push for 60 minutes.

"It took a little longer tonight, but again, it was an important two points for us and it sets us up for a big weekend if we can continue on here."

The Wild are 3-1 in shootouts this season.

"There were a lot of things I liked about the game," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "First off, the effort right through the lineup, the way that everyone contributed. I thought our leadership was outstanding."

Zach Parise gave the Wild a 1-0 lead in the second period. David Legwand tied it for Nashville in the third.

Parise gave Minnesota its 1-0 lead at 9:01 of the second with a power-play goal.

Suter, a former top-paring defenceman with the Predators, sent a shot toward the Nashville net from the middle of the blue line. Standing just to the left of goalie Pekka Rinne and with his stick about waist high, Parise got enough of the puck to tip it over Rinne's glove for his ninth goal.

Minnesota has scored a power-play goal in three consecutive games for the first time this season.

The visit by the Wild was Suter's first return to Nashville since leaving the Predators. Suter played his first seven NHL seasons with Nashville, the team that chose him with the No. 7 pick in the 2003 draft.

Suter and Parise signed identical 13-year, $98 million contracts with Minnesota on July 4.

The Nashville fans showered Suter with boos each time he stepped onto the ice.

"I was just trying to get through it, trying to block it out," he said. "It is not fun being booed, but it is part of it. They went the while game, too, that kind of surprised me. They will probably have some sore throats tomorrow."

Nashville managed to earn a point in this game after Legwand tied it with a power-play goal at 6:28 of the third.

With Suter serving a roughing penalty, Predators captain Shea Weber sent a pass to Sergei Kostitsyn on the left side. Kostitsyn then slid a cross-ice pass to Legwand for a shot that sailed over Backstrom's glove.

"We got a point," Weber said. "It was a nice win for us last night. We were trying to get something going here before we get going on the road, but now we're forced to do something on the road when we go away."

Backstrom made 24 saves through overtime. Rinne stopped 28 shots before the shootout.

Nashville fell to 2-5 in shootouts this season.

"We played a real good Minnesota team that got a chance to scout us last night," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "They were pretty ready and on top of their game in a lot of ways."

For the second time in two nights, the Predators sustained an injury to a forward. This time it was leading scorer Colin Wilson.

Early in the second period, Wilson was checked hard into the end boards in the Minnesota zone by defenceman Justin Falk. Wilson left the game and didn't return because of an upper body injury.

Wilson leads the Predators with seven goals and 12 assists. Trotz said there wouldn't be an update on Wilson's condition until Monday.

On Friday, the Predators lost forward Patric Hornqvist to an upper body injury. There is no timetable for his return. Hornqvist led the Predators in goals in two of the previous three seasons.

NOTES: Minnesota RW Cal Clutterbuck returned to the lineup after missing six games because of a lower body injury. ... Suter has a six-game point streak. ... Weber has five assists in three games.

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