ST. PAUL (AP)—It definitely wasn’t the prettiest game Jacques Lemaire has coached, but it was memorable for many reasons.
Marian Gaborik, Eric Belanger and Brian Rolston all scored in the third period to bring the Minnesota Wild back from two goals down and beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 Tuesday night, giving Lemaire a victory in his 1,000th career game.
“This will be a great souvenir for me,” said Lemaire, who has 475 career wins, 275 with the Wild, and is the 14th coach to reach the 1,000 game milestone.
Nashville, which has lost four straight, led 2-0 after two periods on goals from Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont. The Predators controlled play on both ends, until getting run over by the Wild in the third.
“One game we should’ve had was tonight and we gave it to them in the end,” Arnott said. “It’s pretty frustrating. There are some mental breakdowns we have to correct or it’s going to be a long year.”
Gaborik scored 41 seconds into the third when he flipped in the rebound off a shot from Pavol Demitra. It was the winger’s 13th goal and his fifth straight game with a point.
Belanger tied it six minutes later with a 2-on-1 slapshot from in close. It was his second goal in three games after scoring just once in his previous 14.
Rolston scored the winner with just over a minute to go when he chipped in a rebound over the right pad of Nashville goalie Dan Ellis. It was Rolston’s 600th career point, his third game with a goal and his fifth point in his last three games.
“I just think that we paid the price a little bit more around the net,” Rolston said. “That’s what you have to do. On the last goal it was just getting in front of the net and being in the right place. That’s where goals are scored these days.”
Nashville (14-15-2) has struggled to score recently, getting just three goals in its last three games entering Tuesday and 10 in its last six.
Predators coach Barry Trotz tried changing up his lines during practice this week in an attempt to find more offense. For two periods, anyway, it worked.
“It’s all ourselves. We’ve played some really good hockey and didn’t get the results when we probably should have been on the winning side of some of those games,” Trotz said.
Arnott scored in the first when he tipped in a slap shot off the stick of Ryan Suter. Dumont added a power-play goal in the second.
Nashville has been on the wrong end of a Wild third-period rally before. The last time Minnesota came back from two goals down in the third was a 7-6 shootout win over the Predators on Nov. 16, 2006.
It was the third win in a row for Wild goalie Josh Harding, who ended Minnesota’s recent five-game road trip with impressive wins over Anaheim and Los Angeles. The backup goalie stopped 30 shots and improved to 6-6-1.
Despite scoring two goals or fewer in 11 of its last 18 games, the Wild have now won three in a row and eight of the last 11. It entered Tuesday tied for first in the Northwest Division.
“We’re playing good hockey,” Wild winger Mark Parrish said. “It’s good to see the character and the never say die attitude we’ve got going right now. Going into the period down two goals and everybody was positive in here. We knew we had to just keep playing the way we were and keep throwing pucks, even throw more pucks at the net.
The loss was the Predators’ sixth in their last seven games.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” Nashville defender Greg Zannon said. “We thought we got the chance to bury it and we fall apart.”
Nashville reassigned F Antti Pihlstrom to Milwaukee on Monday to make room for leading scorer Martin Erat, who missed the previous two games with a strained neck. … Wild D Nick Schultz played in his 400th career game. … Six minutes went by before the game’s first shot on goal. Minnesota is 2-10-1 when it does not score first.>