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The Sports Xchange, Published April 13 2014

Predators cruise to win over Wild

SAINT PAUL – With their season ending, the Nashville Predators could dismiss long-time coach Barry Trotz. Although the Predators are out of the playoffs, lately Trotz’s players have given the organization ample reason to keep him around.

On Sunday the Predators closed the season with a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Wild and have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams of late, going 9-1-2 in their final dozen games.

Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Predators got goals from a trio defensemen – Ryan Ellis, Shea Weber and Roman Josi – in a two-minute span. Goalie Carter Hutton had 27 saves for the Predators, who also got a pair of goals from center Craig Smith and single goals from left wing Rich Clune and center Calle Jarnkrok.

Right winger Jason Pominville had a goal and two assists for the Wild (23-27-12), who started goalie Illya Bryzgalov, but lifted him after two periods of their final tune-up before the playoffs begin. Bryzgalov had 16 saves on 21 Nashville shots and was replaced by John Curry, who finished with 10 saves. Left wingers Erik Haula and Zach Parise also scored for Minnesota, which is heading to the postseason for the fifth time in team history.

Nashville 1 4 2— 7

Minnesota 2 1 0— 3

First Period—1, Minnesota, Haula 6 (Pominville, Spurgeon) 5:13. 2, Minnesota, Pominville 30 (Moulson, Haula) 12:13. 3, Nashville, Clune 3 (Gaustad) 14:57.

Second Period—4, Minnesota, Parise 29 (Koivu, Pominville) 2:10 (pp). 5, Nashville, Ellis 7 (Ekholm, Smith) 4:57. 6, Nashville, Weber 23 (Hornqvist) 6:22 (pp). 7, Nashville, Josi 14 (Jarnkrok, Spaling) 6:57. 8, Nashville, Smith 23 (Josi, Wilson) 14:53.

Third Period—9, Nashville, Jarnkrok 2 (Smith, Ellis) 11:50. 10, Nashville, Smith 25 (Spaling, Jarnkrok) 15:41 (pp).

Shots on Goal—Nashville 11-10-12—33. Minnesota 12-8-9—29.

Power-play opportunities—Nashville 2 of 6. Minnesota 1 of 2.

Goalies—Nashville Hutton 20-11-4 (29 shots-26 saves). Minnesota Curry 1-1-0 (12-10), Bryzgalov 0-0-0 (21-16).

A—18,658 (18,064). T—2:33.