SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Trying to find a line to complement the production Eric Staal was providing, Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau put Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund on the wings between captain Mikko Koivu in late November.
Koivu's line could always be counted on to slow another team's top scoring unit. Granlund spent much of his NHL career at center and Zucker always tantalized with his speed.
Together, they've become one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL, offensively and defensively.
Zucker had two goals and an assist, while Koivu and Granlund each had a goal and assist in a 5-2 victory against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
"It's every single game," Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk said. "If they're not scoring, they're getting unbelievable chances and they're responsible at the same time, which is kind of what you get from Mikko ... He's so good all-around. I don't think he gets enough credit for how all-around of a player he really is."
Dubnyk stopped 37 shots, while Staal added an empty-net goal as Minnesota (39-13-6) surpassed its win total from last season and drew within one point of the Washington Capitals for the NHL's best record.
The Wild won for the fourth time in five games and have one game remaining before their league-mandated week off begins Wednesday.
Colin Wilson and P.K. Subban scored for Nashville. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves as the Predators lost for the third time in their past four games and playing for the first time since a 5-3 victory against Dallas on Feb. 12.
"I don't think the five-day break played into it," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "I mean if we were flat or sluggish, that's not how I saw the game. Everybody sees the game different. We were competitive, we got on the wrong side of the scoreboard early in the game, tough bounces, their goalie played well."
The Predators were the latest team to lose coming out of their off week. NHL teams are 3-12-4 in such games this season, including 0-8-3 in February.
Koivu tallied his 600th career point with his game-winning, third-period goal for Minnesota.
Since they became linemates Nov. 25, Koivu, Zucker and Granlund combined for 110 points in 39 games. The Wild are 29-6-4 since.
"I think a perfect example is Zucker's second goal," Koivu said of his line. "He paid the price defensively to earn that chance and took it from there. If he doesn't block that shot and be in the lane and defend well, he's never going to get that breakaway. So I think as a line, I think we're trying to do that each and every night. We take a lot of pride in that, that we need to be good defensively to create offense. It's been working."
Granlund opened the scoring at 2:38 after Nashville forward Harry Zolnierczyk went to the penalty box for goaltender interference. Zolnierczyk collided with Dubnyk but also appeared to be pushed by Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella.
The Wild capitalized when Granlund cleaned up a scrum in front of Rinne. Minnesota had several chances on a loose puck, before the puck found its way to Granlund for his career-high 17th goal.
Granlund has seven goals and 15 assists in the past 19 games, setting career highs across the board. He had 31 goals in his previous four NHL seasons.
Granlund set up Zucker's 17th goal in the second period. The two came in on a 2-on-1 break and Granlund skated to the side, drawing the defenseman before sliding a cross-crease pass to Zucker for an easy goal.
"I'll take those passes from Granny all day," Zucker said. "I think he slid it through Rinne's stick, through the triangle of Rinne. So, I mean, that's a pretty ridiculous pass...I just put my stick on the ice and I know he'll probably hit it."
Wilson finally broke through for the Predators at 8:16 in the third and Subban brought Nashville within one goal about two minutes later on a big slap shot. The goal was initially waved off as James Neal made contact with Dubnyk, but a video review showed the puck was in the net.
"Whenever you're down a couple goals, you need guys to step up and two big players for our hockey club made some plays," center Ryan Johansen said. "It was good to see. We felt like we had a chance there and they found a way to get a lucky break and put one in the net."
-- Minnesota activated D Jonas Brodin from injured reserve before the game. Brodin missed 14 games with a fractured finger. Wild D Matt Dumba missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury.
-- Nashville recalled F Kevin Fiala from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League, but Fiala wasn't in the lineup on Saturday. He has six goals and three assists in 32 games for the Predators this season.
-- The Predators' website reported that Fs Cody McLeod (injured reserve, lower body) and Miikka Salomaki (injured reserve, lower body) were both on the ice before the team's morning skate on Saturday.
-- The Iowa Wild of the AHL signed F Ryan Carter to a professional tryout agreement. Carter played the previous two seasons with Minnesota.
-- Nashville began a stretch of 26 games in 50 days to end the regular season. The Predators travel to Columbus for the second game of a back-to-back Sunday.
-- Minnesota hosts Chicago on Tuesday.