Playoff hopes take a hit in Wild's 'tough to process' loss

The Wild knew what was at stake.

They're chasing the Predators in the Western Conference, but a head-to-head matchup gave them the chance to climb within two points of their Central Division rival and the last playoff spot.

Instead, they've dropped six back, the opportunity to finally make a big move in the standings wasted.

The Wild knew what was at stake, and they stalled.

"We didn't get the job done," Zach Bogosian said.

Nashville rallied on three goals during the third period, including two in 35 seconds, to snub the Wild 3-2 on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center and widen its lead for the final wild-card berth in the West while also snapping the Wild's three-game win streak with one game to go before the bye week and NHL All-Star break.

"Obviously tough to process," Bogosian said. "It was just a tough way to lose, for sure, especially when you feel like you don't necessarily have a stranglehold on the game, but obviously going up in the third period at home you're expecting to win those games."

This was the first time this season the Wild lost in regulation when leading after two periods; they were 14-0-1.

Ahead 1-0, they surrendered the tying goal only 1 minute, 44 seconds into the third period to Alexandre Carrier, who was left all alone in the middle to wire in a shot off the rush. Then Filip Forsberg deflected in a Roman Josi shot at 2:19.

"We gifted them a couple goals," coach John Hynes said.

Nashville's next tally, a shot from Josi at 11:34 that got a piece of Brock Faber's jersey en route to the net, turned into the game-winner after Matt Boldy converted on the power play with 3:51 to go for his first goal in seven games.

Filip Gustavsson finished with 25 saves in his fourth consecutive appearance while Marc-Andre Fleury remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.

"A big emphasis was we had to be strong at our net front," Hynes said. "Two goals [were] both failed boxouts, and we knew they were going to be good in transition and we give up one coming into D-zone coverage.

"So it's mental sharpness."

The Wild showed that precision in the second period when they capitalized on a delay-of-game penalty against the Predators after St. Paul's Ryan McDonagh sent the puck into the seats.

A Kirill Kaprizov shot at 12:44 clipped Joel Eriksson Ek before flying by Nashville goalie Juuse Saros, who totaled 22 saves and improved to 7-3 in his career against the Wild.

The goal was Eriksson Ek's team-leading 21st, ninth on the power play and third in as many games, which is tied for the longest goal streak of his career. The center has six goals and five assists during a season-high six-game point streak; Eriksson Ek's career best is seven games set April 17-29, 2021.

BOXSCORE: Nashville 3, Wild 2

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This 2-for-4 showing by the power play snapped a 0-for-4 drought over the previous two games.

As for the penalty kill, they denied both Predators power plays.

But the Wild weren't attentive enough to protect their advantage.

"It wasn't a push," Hynes said of Nashville's takeover in the third period. "We had numbers back. We didn't have the sort-out we needed. They get the goal.

"To me, in a 1-0 game, in a 2-1 game, your details have to be heightened. That mental sharpness and understanding when it's those critical areas of the game, you have to defend because it's a one-goal game."

This was only the Wild's second loss in their last six games and although it was costly, they still have a chance to go into their break on the upswing if they take care of business on Saturday in their homestand finale vs. the Ducks.

"The main focus is regrouping [Friday] and then making sure we're at our best on Saturday night and come out of the week [with] four out of six points," Hynes said. "That's a good week for us."