Steve Sullivan’s first goal in nearly three weeks snapped a streak of 18 straight unsuccessful Nashville Predators’ power plays but was not nearly enough to rally his team to victory Friday.
Nashville surrendered three goals in the final eight minutes of the first period and lost 5-2 to the Minnesota Wild at St Paul, Minn.
The teams entered the contest tied in the Western Conference standings with 22 points apiece, two points behind San Jose and Chicago, which were tied for eighth.
Sullivan got the Predators on the board when he scored at 3:55 of the third period, 59 seconds into their second power play of the contest.
It was Sullivan’s team-leading sixth goal of the season but his first since Nov. 7 at Anaheim, a stretch of eight games. It also was Nashville first with the man-advantage since Nov. 13 against Chicago.
The Predators failed to convert during a 5-on-3, which lasted 1:18, later in the period and never threatened despite the fact that they outshot Minnesota 34-23. Martin Erat did add a second goal on the power play, that with 8.5 seconds to play.
The Wild responded when Martin Havlat got his second goal of the contest with 5:58 remaining.
Havlat capped Minnesota’s first-period scoring surge (all three goals came in the span of 5:50) and added the only assist on Nick Schultz’s goal, which made it 4-0 just 48 seconds into the second period.
Nashville’s starting goalie Pekka Rinne was pulled after the first period. It was the third time this season he failed to finish a contest. He was injured in the season opener against Anaheim and twice was lifted with the team in a big hole.
He allowed three goals on nine shots.
The Predators are back in action Saturday at home against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. Bridgestone Arena).