The Wild finally encountered a deficit it couldn't defeat.
After four consecutive comeback wins to open the season, becoming just the fourth team in NHL history to accomplish that rare feat, the Wild's come-from-behind mojo disappeared Sunday in a 5-2 letdown to the Predators in front of an announced 16,014 at Xcel Energy Center.
"At some point we just got to score first," Nico Sturm said. "It's as simple as that."
Nashville goaltender Connor Ingram made an impressive NHL debut, posting 33 saves in his first career victory.
But the players in front of him were solid, too, giving him a healthy cushion to work with after scoring three goals in the first period — two coming on the power play.
"We didn't really have a lot of energy in the first period," Wild captain Jared Spurgeon said, "and they took it to us."
Predators captain Roman Josi had a hand in all three of those first-period tallies, including scoring the initial one. Ryan Johansen racked up two goals against Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, who was making his first start of the season. He made 24 saves, all after Nashville was already leading.
Josi pounced on a loose puck that hit traffic in front during Nashville's first power play and capitalized on the Predators' first shot 3 minutes, 45 seconds into the first period.
This wasn't unusual territory for the Wild (4-1), a team that had given up the first goal in its previous four games. But against Nashville, that hole kept growing.
By 5:54, the Predators doubled their lead on another power play goal after Johansen put back his own rebound. Their power play went 2-for-6, and the Wild was 0-for-5.
"Both special teams were not good," Wild coach Dean Evason said.
Then, at 12:25, Josi spun to avoid a Dmitry Kulikov hit and set up Johansen for a glove-side shot.
"I didn't have any really tough work in the first period, which makes it a lot easier to settle in when you jump out to a lead like that," Ingram said.
Not until 11:30 elapsed in the second period did the Wild finally solve Ingram when Nick Bjugstad buried a Jon Merrill outlet pass off the boards.
But only 1:45 later, Nashville restored its three-goal lead when Filip Forsberg tipped in a Josi point shot to put the Predators up 4-1.
Overall, Josi racked up four points and Matt Duchene three while Johansen and Forsberg had two apiece.
Nashville's third line also contributed, with Tanner Jeannot batting in a puck past Kahkonen with 1:25 remaining in the second period.
Before the period ended, Sturm tucked in a Brandon Duhaime rebound at 19:57 to continue that line's strong performance.Duhaime's assist on the play was the first of his NHL career.
"Besides Sturmy's line, we were all bad," Evason said.
In the third, Evason reunited Joel Eriksson Ek with Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno and shifted Ryan Hartman to the Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello line. But the changes didn't spark a rally.
Kaprizov finished without a point for a second consecutive game and is still searching for his first goal of the season.
"He's getting special attention and when you try to do too much and try to do something extra to try to beat somebody, it doesn't go well because not only one guy is concentrating on you — all five guys on the ice are watching for him," said Evason, who chatted with Kaprizov before the game. "So, if you try to beat people 1-on-1, it usually turns over. Or try to make a softer play, it turns over.
"He's a gritty guy. He'll figure it out."
As for the Wild, the team is still vying to score first in a game and bank more reps playing with a lead instead of chasing one.
"It's never fun to trail behind unless you go and get the win," Frederick Gaudreau said. "But that's always harder to do. We've got to fix that, for sure."