Unlikely hero helps Nashville Predators get healthy against Minnesota Wild

By Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Badly in need of a win with their losing streak at five games, the Nashville Predators turned to a familiar formula to get healthy.

Only the shutout they had to have came from the guy known more for his good-natured in-game interviews on the team's cable TV telecasts.


Making only his seventh start of the season and his first at home, backup goalie Carter Hutton stopped 29 shots for his third career shutout Saturday night as Nashville dumped the struggling Minnesota Wild 3-0 at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

Hutton (4-2-1) made nine saves inside the game's first eight minutes to set the game's tone, then came up with a spate of big stops among his 13 second period saves.

After denying left winger Jason Zucker a game-tying power-play marker by sliding from left to right early in the period, Hutton outdid himself in the period's last two minutes.


In a five-second span, Hutton delivered rapid-fire stops of left winger Jason Pominville, defenseman Ryan Suter and left winger Zach Parise to protect a 1-0 edge.

"It was a huge win for us," Hutton said. "It was nice to get to play at home. I just wanted to help my guys get a win."

It was Hutton's first start since a 4-3 overtime loss Dec. 29 in St. Louis. Starter Pekka Rinne has scuffled during the team's recent skid, allowing 20 goals in the past five games, and has a save percentage of only .902.

While Predators coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't commit to Hutton for Tuesday night's home date against red-hot Chicago, he praised him for his impact on the streak-stopper.

"If he wasn't sharp the first 10 minutes, that game could have swung in a different direction," Laviolette said of Hutton. "Even parts of the second period, they had us on our heels a little bit. He shut the door."

The only goal Hutton really needed came on Nashville's first shot as left winger Eric Nystrom deflected a wrister by defenseman Shea Weber past helpless goalie Devan Dubnyk at 1:24 of the first period. It was Nystrom's seventh of the year.


For insurance, the Predators (20-17-8) made it 2-0 at 6:14 of the third with a power-play marker as defenseman Roman Josi picked up his own rebound in the right faceoff circle and potted his 10th goal.

Left winger Filip Forsberg capped the scoring with an empty-net goal at 18:34, his 13th of the season.

It was the fourth straight loss for Minnesota (22-15-8), which was blanked for the second straight game. The Wild have managed just 29 goals in their last 15 games and are one-for-29 with the man advantage in that span, going zero-for-three in this one.

Not willing to stick with the status quo, Minnesota coach Mike Yeo dressed seven defensemen and changed up his power-play units, but it was to no avail.

"We're trying to make the extra play to guarantee the goal and right now, we're not capitalizing on our opportunities," Yeo said. "It's frustrating for the players. We're keeping ourselves in the game, but obviously, you can't win if you don't score a goal."

Dubnyk (18-14-4) notched 22 saves in a solid performance, but he was outplayed by the sparingly-used Hutton.

"We were up-and-down parts of the first two periods, and parts of the game, we weren't very good," Nashville center Mike Fisher said. "Carter shut the door."


NOTES: Nashville LW Gabriel Bourque (upper-body injury) participated in morning skate but remains on IR. He has been out since a 3-2 OT loss at Philadelphia on Nov. 27. ... Minnesota entered the game with just 22 power-play goals. By contrast, Chicago RW Patrick Kane has 24 power-play points. ... Wild scratches were Cs Erik Haula and Ryan Carter, as well as G Niklas Backstrom. ... The Predators scratched D Petter Granberg and LW Austin Watson.

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