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Rolston's late goal lifts Wild to win over Predators

Oct 8, 2006 - 3:03 AM ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- Brian Rolston had a fitting end to a fantastic night.

Rolston scored the winning goal late in the third period and Niklas Backstrom stopped 17 shots in his NHL debut to lead the Minnesota Wild to a thrilling 6-5 victory over the Nashville Predators.

Coming off a career-high 79 points in 2005-06, Rolston recorded his first two this season with a pair of assists over the first 42 minutes.

The veteran saved his best for last, however, converting a nice cross-slot feed from Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the left faceoff circle with just 71 seconds remaining.

"(Defenseman Marek) Zidlicky was cheating a little bit and I don't know exactly what happened, but the puck bounced out and I tried to shove (the defender) down toward the net a little bit to create some room for me and Booch," Rolston said. "Booch made a great pass, right on my stick. I felt like that was the first pass tonight that didn't jump over my stick."

Minnesota starting netminder Manny Fernandez was lifted after a poor first period and Backstrom capitalized on his opportunity, stopping all six shots he faced in the middle session and turning aside another 11 in the third period.

"This is what you wait for your whole life, for a chance like this," Backstrom said. "I tried to be relaxed and enjoy it as much as I could. I'm very happy with the way things turned out. The guys helped me a lot blocking shots."

An undrafted rookie from Finland, Backstrom helped the Wild kill off three of their four penalties over the final two periods.

Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra each registered a goal and an assist for the Wild, who went 5-for-8 on the power play. The five man-advantage tallies tied a franchise record.

"We have some skilled players out there," Rolston said. "One of the biggest things about it is that we worked hard to get the puck back. We had good screens in front. ... We got some dirty goals."

Mark Parrish, a Minnesota native who signed with the Wild as a free agent during the offseason, scored a power-play tally while Bouchard and defenseman Kurtis Foster each registered a pair of assists.

Nashville's Tomas Vokoun struggled for the second consecutive game, stopping just shots. The star netminder has allowed a total of 14 goals over the Predators' first two contests, both losses.

"His play has not been Tomas-like," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Your best penalty-killer has to be your goaltender. That's where it starts and works its way out to the defense and the forwards."

Steve Sullivan scored a goal and set up two others for Nashville, which squandered two early leads in the contest.

"We're just playing too loosely," Sullivan said. "We're going down the ice expecting to score every time. We need to make better decisions on when to attack and be a little bit more cautious."

"Every game, it's been the same," Trotz said. "We're able to bounce back. We've scored 11 goals in two games and we don't have a point to show for it. That's bothersome."

Predators rookie defenseman Mikko Lehtonen tallied in his NHL debut, beating Fernandez with a slap shot at 1:41 of the first period to open the scoring.

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