ST. PAUL (AP) -- Every time the Minnesota Wild get a break, every time a young player makes a veteran decision and every time his team wins, coach Jacques Lemaire tries not to notice.
"I don't want to think about it," said Lemaire, whose team moved another step closer to its first playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over Nashville on Friday night. "To think about it only puts more pressure on everybody."
Dwayne Roloson, fresh off signing a three-year, multimillion dollar contract extension, made 22 saves for the Wild. Minnesota also got a big goal from its 18-year-old rookie, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and a few fortunate bounces along the way.
While Lemaire tries to ignore it all, a victory over another team that is fighting for its first playoff spot forces him to take stock of his third-year franchise.
"We think this is our year," he said. "Things have been going very well all along. We've had breaks through the whole year. We believe. To me, it's special. You don't get this every year."
The only bad break the Wild got Friday night came when Nashville's Scott Walker spoiled Roloson's shutout bid midway through the third period. Still, Roloson earned his 19th victory, a career high.
Bouchard and Jim Dowd scored second-period goals for the Wild, who won their third straight game. Cliff Ronning added an empty-netter.
"We play a team game," Ronning said. "We've done it all year. We knew we had to have this one -- it was a big game. We did it, and that's gratifying."
The Predators outshot Minnesota 13-4 in the second period but were outscored 2-0.
"If our line scores on all of our chances it's a 4-2 game for us tonight," said Nashville's Scott Hartnell, whose team is 1-2-2-1 since ending a 9-2 stretch that brought the Predators into the playoff chase. "It's frustrating, but we need to bear down and get some more goals."
The loss was particularly painful for the Predators because it left them six points behind Edmonton for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"We didn't initiate enough in the first period and we tried to play like they did," goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "We've got to go for it because we don't have much time left."
Bouchard opened the scoring 39 seconds into the second period. After Nashville's Oleg Petrov lost control of the puck outside the Predators' blue line, Bouchard picked it up and raced in alone. Bouchard faked Vokoun to the ice and lifted a wrist shot into the net for his sixth goal.
Dowd scored on a power play at 9:04 on a slap shot from a bad angle. Lubomir Sekeras fed Dowd, who was below the left circle standing along the end line. Vokoun had come out of the net to challenge Sekeras and couldn't scramble back in time to stop Dowd's shot into the far side of the net.
The two-goal lead was more than enough for the Wild, 25-0-1 in games they have led going into the third period.
Walker broke Roloson's shutout bid at 9:42 of the third period when he poked a loose puck out of a scramble in front of the net between Roloson's pads.
Notes: The Wild wrapped up their season series with the Predators with a 2-1-1 edge. ... In his next game, Vokoun will tie the franchise record for games played in a season by a goalie, with 58. Vokoun has started the team's last 26 games. ... The Predators have allowed just four first-period goals in their last 15 games. ... Nashville is 25-17-7-1 in its last 50 games after starting the season 2-10-4-4. ... The Wild were not penalized Friday night for the first time in franchise history.
Nashville 0 0 1 -- 1
Minnesota 0 2 1 -- 3
First Period--None. Penalties--None.
Second Period--1, Minnesota, Bouchard 6, :39. 2, Minnesota, Dowd 8 (Sekeras, Gaborik), 9:04 (pp). Penalties--Hulse, Nas (holding), 7:35; Skrastins, Nas (holding), 16:36.
Third Period--3, Nashville, Walker 15 (Orszagh), 9:42. 4, Minnesota, Ronning 14 (Laaksonen, Roloson), 19:32 (en). Penalty--York, Nas (boarding), 15:56.
Shots on goal--Nashville 4-13-6--23. Minnesota 6-4-8--18.
Power-play Opportunities--Nashville 0 of 0; Minnesota 1 of 3.
Goalies--Nashville, Vokoun 25-22-9 (17 shots-15 saves). Minnesota, Roloson 19-14-7 (23-22).
A--18,568 (18,064). T--2:09.
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