Wild take huge risk, earn needed reward in OT win over Nashville

Matt Boldy didn't know the rule. Neither did Marc-Andre Fleury. Or Marcus Foligno.

But John Hynes did.

The Wild coach understood if he pulled his goalie in overtime for an extra attacker and gave up an empty-net goal to the Predators, the Wild would lose the point they earned from being tied after regulation — in a desperate playoff race, against a Central Division rival they are chasing and after a much better effort than when they were creamed by Nashville on Feb. 29.

And the Wild still took the risk.

"I love it," Ryan Hartman said.

The all-or-nothing decision worked out for the Wild, because they used their 4-on-3 advantage to set up Boldy for a one-timer he drained to fittingly finalize a 4-3 overtime victory over the Predators on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center that lifted the Wild within six points of the last Western Conference wild-card berth..

"Good thing we scored," Boldy said.

With less than 2 minutes to go in overtime and after making his 27th stop, Fleury skated to the bench and the Wild soon had their top four scorers on the ice.

Kirill Kaprizov handed the puck off to Mats Zuccarello, who split Nashville's triangle defense with a pass that Boldy buried behind Predators goalie Juuse Saros (29 saves) with 1:10 left in the extra session as Joel Eriksson Ek posted up near the net.

Boldy's second career overtime goal was his team-high third point of the game after his line with Kaprizov and Eriksson Ek created the Wild's first two goals.

"When we started drawing it up right before the overtime, everyone was pretty amped up," Hartman said, "and we were hoping for it to come earlier."

The idea was introduced at the end of regulation, after a Ryan O'Reilly power play goal with 2:02 to go in the third period erased the Wild's 3-2 lead from a Hartman breakaway at 12:28 of the third.

"To be completely honest, I thought that we were drawing it up in case we got a power play, so that's how out of the loop I was," Foligno said. "But it makes total sense. Yeah, it's a risk you play, but I think we're very confident with those four guys."

This was the first time a team capitalized like this since Los Angeles did against Boston on Oct. 28, 2017.

"We want to be aggressive," Hynes said. "We want to get two points. We want to continue to fight. We believe in our group and continue to fight to play meaningful games down the stretch and let the chips fall where they may.

"So I think in the situation we're in, one point, no point, it's not going to do us any good. We got to get two points."

They deserved them.

BOXSCORE: Wild 4, Nashville 3 (OT)

NHL standings

The Wild were much more competitive than their previous encounter with Nashville, a change that was clear early: after Foligno fought Michael McCarron, Jonas Brodin converted on the very next shift, resolving a goal-mouth scramble 3:16 into the first period.

"There's some bad blood from last game," Foligno said. "McCarron punching Zuccarello on the bench, stuff like that's gotta be not let go. They're a team that answers the bell, just like we do. I think you need animosity in the game."

The Predators, on a 12-game point streak, answered back at 9 minutes, on an uncontested Mark Jankowski shot before moving ahead when the puck took two bounces en route to Luke Evangelista 3:36 into the second period.

More chaos in the Nashville crease led to Kaprizov burying the equalizer on the power play, his team-best 31st goal, with 1:18 left in the second before Hartman tallied his first goal in 20 games. Both power plays went 1-for-2 after O'Reilly wove the puck through traffic late in the third.

But the Wild had a plan up their sleeve that would lead them to a memorable — and much-needed — victory.

"Sometimes when you've got nothing to lose, you play a little bit better," Foligno said. "Right now it feels like that's the vibe in here."