The Minnesota Wild scored first, but surrendered three unanswered goals to lose their first game of the season 3-1 to the Nashville Predators Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.

Martin Erat scored his second goal of the season in somewhat unique fashion to break a 1-1 tie with eight minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the third period. The Czech forward found himself in a race to a loose puck for a breakaway.

Niklas Backstrom beat Erat to puck just past the top of the circles, but his clearing attempt hit the Predators forward. Erat stuck with the puck and tucked into the open net.

"(Erat) has been around the league pretty good," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He knows (when a goaltender) is in a position like they are going to go to the forehand. He jumped in front of it and blocked. It stayed with him and he was able to put it in the net."

The Predators (1-0-2) were coming off a hard fought shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues Monday, which had Trotz a little worried.

The Wild (2-1-0)  held a distinct shots of goal advantage, but were unable to take advantage.

"Last night was a really tough game for us." Trotz said. "I was really concerned we wouldn't have much (left in the tank). It showed, we didn't have our legs early. We got through the first period and I thought our game got better and better."

Dany Heatley extended his point streak to 11 games, dating back to last season, with a shot from the point that hit traffic on its way to the back of the net.

Nick Spaling notched the game at one at the 16:31 mark of the opening period to give the Predators a lift. It was his fifth goal in nine career games against the Wild.

"I think it gave us a spark," Trotz said. "If we fall down 2-0, I think it kills your will a little bit."

The Predators added an insurance power play goal with 17 seconds remaining in the game.

Zach Parise tallied an assist on Heatley's goal to give four points (one goal and three assists) in three games this season.

Three Stars

No. 3 – Martin Erat. The Predators forward scored the game-winning goal.

No. 2 – Nick Spaling. The Predators forward recorded a goal and an assist.

No. 1 – Chris Mason. The Predators goaltender stopped 29 of 30 shots.


Nashville      1 0 2 – 3

Minnesota     1 0 0 – 1

       First Period – 1, Minnesota, Heatley 3 (Stoner, Parise), 6:02. 2, Nashville, Spaling 1 (Klein, Yip), 16:31Penalties – Clune, Nash, major (fighting), 2:18; Konopka, Min, major (fighting), 2:18; Spaling, Nash (tripping), 12:16; Hornqvist, Nash (roughing), 19:55; Koivu, Min (roughing), 19:55.

       Second Period – None. Penalties – Powe, Min (interference), 3:43; Weber, Nash (interference), 4:03; Falk, Min (interference), 9:19; Yip, Nash (roughing),19:17.

       Third Period – 3, Nashville, Erat 2 (unassisted), 11:45. 4, Nashville, Legwand 1 (Spaling), 19:44 (pp). Penalties – Hornqvist, Nash (goaltender interference), 9:47; Clutterbuck, Min (hooking), 9:47; Bouchard, Min (slashing), 19:36.

       Shots on goal – Nashville 5-10-11 26. Minnesota 12-7-11 30.

       Goalies – Nashville, Mason (29-30). Minnesota, Backstrom (23-26). A – 17,540. Referees – Chris Lee, Francis Charron. Linesmen – Ryan Galloway, Steve Miller.