Prior to Thursday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, the Nashville Predators honored David Poile for winning more games than any general manager in NHL history.
Then they added one more win to Poile’s 1,320 while stretching their franchise record winning streak to 10 games, getting goals from Craig Smith, Ryan Johansen, Austin Watson and Viktor Arvidsson in a 4-2 decision at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.
Pekka Rinne earned his 37th win with 31 saves. Only Rickard Rakell cracked the code, scoring at 6:04 of the third period on a tap-in goal at the left post off a terrific setup by Corey Perry, then notching his 30th of the season at 16:35 on a wrister off Ryan Getzlaf’s 40th helper.
That was all for the Anaheim offense as it suffered just its second regulation loss in 10 games, becoming the latest team to fall victim to Nashville’s balance. The Predators improved to 44-14-9, good for 97 points and a six-point lead on Winnipeg in the Central Division. Nashville also maintained a six-point lead on Vegas for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Smith initiated scoring for the Predators at 5:26 of the first period with his 21st tally of the season. Taking Kyle Turris’ pass at the blue line, Smith maneuvered into the high slot and wired a wrister over the glove of John Gibson.
Johansen’s 10th goal of the season made it 2-0 at 15:10 of the first. Arvidsson rushed the puck down the left wing and left a drop pass for Filip Forsberg. He zinged a backhand to the right post, where Johansen merely had to deflect the puck over Gibson’s glove, making him the 11th Nashville player to hit double-figure goals.
Watson added to the Predators’ scoring at 18:42 of the second period with a shorthanded goal, his 11th. Ryan Ellis sent Colton Sissons in on a breakaway. Gibson stopped Sissons’ backhander, but Watson collected the rebound and jammed it home.
Arvidsson answered Rakell’s two goals with his 25th at 18:14 of the third period, zinging a wrister just under the crossbar.
Gibson finished with 24 saves.
—Field Level Media