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Mason backstops Nashville to first win, Suter on ice for all three Preds goals…

Short of the season opener, this was probably the most anticipated game for Nashville Predators fans early in the 2013 season. Ryan Suter, the All-Star defenseman who misled the only franchise he’d ever known before signing with the Minnesota Wild on July 4, 2012, was finally going to play his old team.

They say the ultimate revenge in sports is to win. In front of 17,540, the Predators did just that besting the Wild, 3-1, on Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Nick Spaling, Martin Erat and David Legwand would get the goals for Nashville in the victory.

Chris Mason, getting his first start in a Predators sweater since April 2008, turned aside 29 Minnesota shots en route to his first win of the season, 59th as a Predator and 137th of his NHL career. While he only gave up a single goal, the Red Deer, Alberta, native didn’t look his best. He constantly gave up rebounds, fumbled a couple routine glove saves and even looked uncomfortable in his own net at times. Of course, the best time to not be your best is in victory and he was certainly good enough to get that.

The only goal he gave up was a deflection in front. Pred killer Dany Heatley (24 points in 18 games all-time against Nashville) circled off the half-boards to the left point and put a wrist shot toward the net. Defenseman Kevin Klein, while defending Zach Parise in front, tried to glove it down but it deflected into his own net.

From that point on Mason would get all the offensive support he’d need.

Late in the opening frame, Klein took a shot from the point and Niklas Backstrom got a pad on it. The shot was so hard, however, that it caused a big, juicy rebound in which Spaling made no mistake, potting his first goal of the season to tie the game.

After a scoreless second, Nashville took the lead by cashing in on a mental mistake by Backstrom. Wild captain Mikko Koivu tried to make a play from behind the Predators’ net but the pass got tipped in the slot by Erat. Because both Suter and Jared Spurgeon had pinched to the hashmarks, there was nobody between Erat and the puck as it slid down ice. Backstrom could have charged out to make a play but hesitated just long enough to give Erat the advantage. The Wild goalie won the race but was forced to play it hastily. The Preds winger forced the turnover, corralled the puck and then slammed it into an empty net for the 2-1 lead.

Nashville would finish off their old friend Suter and his new club with a Legwand power play goal in the final minute.

Suter was on the ice for all three Nashville goals and finished a with a minus-2 rating. He’s now pointless with a minus-3 rating on the year.

The Predators will travel to St. Louis, Missouri to take on the Blues on Thursday. The Blues are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. The winner will get sole possession of second place in the Central Division. It will be Nashville’s last Central Division tilt until February 5.

Puck drops at 7:00pm Central and you can catch all the action on 102.5 The Game and FS-Tennessee.

PHOTO CREDIT: James Roper (used with permission)

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