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Wild 4, Predators 0

The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Both the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators were playing their second game in as many nights Sunday.

But Minnesota, which traveled after losing at home Saturday, showed no signs of fatigue. It scored two goals in just over two minutes during the first period and never looked back in a 4-0 win over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper (2-1-0) notched his first NHL shutout and third career win. The Wild (25-18-5) won for the fifth time in six games and moved four points ahead of Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Left winger Dany Heatley put Minnesota in command on consecutive shifts. At 12:03 of the first period, he deflected a pass from center Charlie Coyle past goalie Marek Mazanec (8-10-4) for his ninth goal.

Heatley then worked a pretty give-and-go play with left winger Jason Zucker, who finished the odd-man rush by scoring his third goal at 14:15.

Minnesota's defense walled off the goal for most of the night, blocking more shots (15) than Nashville put on net (14) in the first two periods. Kuemper faced just five shots in the first 20 minutes and finished with 23 saves. His best stop came early in the third period when he denied center Matt Cullen on the doorstep.

The Wild turned it into a rout with two more goals in the third period. Left winger Matt Cooke potted his sixth goal at 1:14 off a beautiful behind-the-net feed from right winger Justin Fontaine.

Defenseman Marco Scandella capped the scoring at 10:16, wristing a shot from the blue line over the right shoulder of Mazanec for his third goal.

It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Predators (19-21-7), who fell 10 points behind Minnesota and dropped to 1-2-1 on their five-game homestand. They were blanked for the seventh time this season.

Mazanec finished with 19 saves.

NOTES: D Ryan Suter drew the second assist on Minnesota's first goal in the first period for his 300th NHL point. The former Nashville star, who left in the summer of 2012 to sign with the Wild as a free agent, was booed every time he touched the puck. ... Predators RW Patric Hornqvist (lower-body injury) returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. ... Minnesota returns home to play Ottawa Tuesday night, its lone game against an Eastern Conference foe in a 13-game stretch that started Jan. 7 and ends Feb. 1. ... Another former Nashville player, Jonathan Blum, dressed and played on the Wild's third defense pairing with Clayton Stoner. Blum played 91 games over parts of three seasons for the Predators, scoring seven goals.
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