Predators fans can hold off on pressing the panic button.
Nashville bounced back Tuesday from three straight losses with a 2-1 shootout win over Minnesota in a game that had a playoff feel to it at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators (49-16-11), already in the playoffs, held off the Wild (42-24-10), a Central Division foe closing in on a playoff spot, when Kyle Turris scored the winning goal.
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The Predators — who now have 109 points and are one away from tying the most in franchise history — clinched home ice for the first round of the playoffs with the points they earned Tuesday.
The Predators failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities in the second period. There were few opportunities in the third.
Even without scoring a second regulation goal, the Predators were more aggressive in a game that got physical early and stayed that way throughout.
Before the three-game slump, the Predators had put together a franchise-record-setting 14-0-1 stretch.
Here are three observations from Tuesday’s game:
Rinne finally tames Wild
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who took Sunday off against Winnipeg, returned Tuesday to face an opponent he’s struggled with this season.
He came into the game 0-3 this season against Minnesota. In the Predators’ only win over the Wild — a 3-0 shutout on Dec 30 — Jusse Suros was in net.
Rinne’s three losses: 6-4 on Nov. 16, 4-2 on Dec. 29 and 4-1 last Saturday.
On Tuesday, however, Rinne was stingy early and came up big in the shootout by stopping three shots.
He finished with 22 saves.
Rinne will likely sit out one more game and possibly two in the regular season.
Setting up for a big finish
With just six games left in the regular season, one in which the Predators have established themselves as one of the NHL’s best teams, Tuesday’s victory sets up what could be a strong finish.
And with that would be some much-needed momentum heading into the playoffs.
Tuesday was the first of a three-game home stretch with San Jose coming to town Thursday and Buffalo visiting on Saturday.
The opportunity is there for the taking.
Of course, San Jose is thinking the same thing. The Sharks are taking advantage of deadline additions of Evander Kane and Eric Fehr, playing well and staying within striking distance of first-place Vegas in the Pacific Division.
Buffalo, meanwhile, could be headed for a last-place finish, not only the Eastern Division but overall in the NHL. The Predators shut out the Sabres 4-0 last week to extend their point streak to 15 games.
Watson, Weber, Tolvanen updates
The Predators listed forward Austin Watson and Yannick Weber as day-to-day with upper-body injuries Tuesday morning. Both suffered their respective injuries against the Wild on Saturday. Watson participated in Tuesday’s morning skate, but Weber didn’t.
On Tuesday, the Nashville chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced Watson as the Predators’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy, given to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
The Predators also updated the status of forward prospect Eeli Tolvanen, who opted out of his KHL contract Monday. They said that they’ve begun the process of trying to sign him to an entry-level contract. A spokesman from Tolvanen’s KHL team told The Tennessean on Monday that the 18-year-old is scheduled to travel to North America on Wednesday.