Roman Josi gets 2 goals for Predators in 6-2 win over Wild

March 14, 2022 GMT
Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26), right, celebrates after scoring a goal against Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen (34) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 13, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26), right, celebrates after scoring a goal against Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen (34) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 13, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26), right, celebrates after scoring a goal against Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen (34) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 13, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
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Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26), right, celebrates after scoring a goal against Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen (34) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 13, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
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Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26), right, celebrates after scoring a goal against Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen (34) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 13, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Roman Josi scored twice to establish a career high with 17 goals for the season, leading the Nashville Predators past Minnesota 6-2 on Sunday night to spoil the start of a franchise-record nine-game homestand for the Wild.

“The best defenseman in the game,” coach John Hynes said. “I’m not so sure that there’s a player that impacts their team and their organization the way that Roman does.”

Josi added two assists on late empty-net goals to give him 66 points, also a career best. That ties the 2020 Norris Trophy winner for seventh on the franchise single-season list, with 23 games to go. Paul Kariya has the record with 85 points in 2005-06.

“We have such a good team this year, so many guys who are having big years, which helps you,” said Josi, the four-time All-Star and team captain.

Filip Forsberg had two goals and an assist, Philip Tomasino added a goal and an assist and Nick Cousins had a goal and two assists for Nashville (34-21-4), which tied Minnesota (34-20-4) for third place in the Central Division. St. Louis is in second, four points up. The Wild have played one fewer game than the Blues and the Predators.

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“We’ve got to figure out a way to get these points, especially in these divisional matchups,” Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said. “Four-point swings aren’t good for us the other way.”

Matt Boldy and Jordan Greenway scored for the Wild, who are 4-9-1 in their last 14 games. They were frequently stonewalled by Predators goalie David Rittich, who stopped 26 shots with help from Josi and the rest of the defensemen. The Predators tied their franchise record with 29 blocked shots.

“That’s winning hockey,” Cousins said, “just the commitment defensively to do that. Not all teams want to do that. It takes a lot a lot of guts, a lot of effort to sacrifice your body in front of some big-time shooters. You know, it starts with Jos.”

Said Josi: “That’s really such a cool stat for us.”

Not only did the Predators snap back from a 7-4 loss to St. Louis at home the night before and keep the Wild on their heels, they put a damper on an energetic evening at Xcel Energy Center that began with the jersey retirement ceremony for former captain and center Mikko Koivu.

One of Koivu’s former teammates, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, joined him and Wild captain Jared Spurgeon at mid-ice for the ceremonial puck drop. Granlund sat on the visiting team bench to watch the pregame event and, a few hours later, set up Josi for an insurance goal on a power play 65 seconds into the third period with his slap shot from just inside the blue line.

Greenway tied the game at 2 midway through the second by taking Marcus Foligno’s pass on a rush up the right wing and burying the puck past Rittich’s blocker.

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Merely 50 seconds later, Tomasino gave the Predators the lead again with his backhander off a rebound deflected out in front by Wild backup goalie Kaapo Kahkonen.

Forsberg and Cousins tacked on empty-netters in the final 2 1/2 minutes. Kahkonen, who made 19 saves, started his second straight game. He is 0-5-1 in his last six starts.

BANNER DAY

In a televised ceremony an hour before the opening faceoff, the Wild made Koivu the first player in franchise history with his number retired. Family members, former Wild general managers Doug Risebrough and Chuck Fletcher and more than 20 of his ex-teammates were in attendance for the event. Wild players wore special No. 9 uniforms in Koivu’s honor for warmups.

Koivu was the first full-time captain in Wild history, a role he held for 11 of his 15 seasons with the club. He’s the franchise’s career leader in games played, assists, points, plus-minus rating and several other categories, after being drafted sixth overall in 2001 out of his native Finland.

Koivu wiped tears from his eyes several times as he watched the event and spoke to the crowd, which chanted his name more than once.

NOTES

Predators: Forsberg hit the 30-goal mark for the third time in his eight full seasons, a milestone he last reached in 2016-17. ... Defenseman Matt Benning (second period) and forward Luke Kunin (third period) both departed with unspecified injuries. Hynes said Kunin was fine but Benning’s status was not known.

Wild: Foligno, who was fined $5,000 for kneeing Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jakub Voracek in the game on Friday, got a five-minute major penalty for fighting Kunin, his former teammate, in the first period. ... The Wild have allowed 12 power-play goals in 31 chances over the last nine games. “It’s killing us,” coach Dean Evason said.

UP NEXT

Predators: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

Wild: Host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

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