Neal, Predators beat Senators 4-3 in shootout
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) James Neal just missed a hat trick in overtime. His shootout winner was plenty for the Nashville Predators.
Neal scored two power-play goals in regulation then potted the shootout winner as the Predators beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Saturday night.
The winger had an opportunity for his third goal in overtime but was stopped by Craig Anderson, who finished with 22 saves. Scoring in the shootout made up for it.
''I had a good chance on 3-on-3 and Anderson made a good save,'' said Neal. ''It's all right. It felt good to get that goal in the shootout to give our team a win.''
Craig Smith also scored for Nashville (4-1-0). Carter Hutton, making his first start of the season, stopped 38 shots.
Mike Hoffman had a pair of goals for the Senators (3-2-1), while Mark Stone picked up the other.
For the first time this season, the Senators were not outshot by the opposition.
After a subpar outing last game, Senators coach Dave Cameron was much happier with Saturday's performance despite the loss, calling it the team's best effort of the season.
''That's the way it goes over 82 games,'' said Cameron. ''You're going to play games where you think you deserve better, and I thought we deserved better tonight.''
While the Senators have only played two games at home, they remain winless at Canadian Tire Centre. Saturday was the first contest of a four-game homestand.
With the game tied 2-2 midway through the third period, Neal scored his second power-play goal of the game in the exact same manner he scored his first in the opening period, beating Anderson short side on a wrap-around attempt.
''(Roman) Josi made a good play to get it down to me,'' Neal said. ''I think (Anderson) went for a bit of the poke check on the second one and I think he was anticipating I was going to do it again, but it worked so it was nice to see it go in.''
With time winding down Hoffman scored his second of the night, tying it 3-3 with a shot from the blue line.
''The game was there for the taking for each team,'' Hoffman said. ''At the end of the day it was a shootout loss that could have gone either way.''
The Senators had played a great second until a weak clearing attempt by Patrick Wiercioch allowed the Predators to tie the game 2-2 with just over two minutes remaining in the period.
Nashville's Mike Ribeiro was able to keep the puck in at the blue line and fed Smith for his third of the season.
Ottawa had taken the lead at the 12-minute mark of the second when Hoffman fired a shot from just inside the blue line. Hutton was helpless as the puck deflected off Ryan Ellis' stick.
Stone tied the game 1-1 only 15 seconds into the second as he took a great pass from Kyle Turris and then went forehand to backhand to beat Hutton.
''This one is definitely a tougher pill to swallow,'' said Stone. ''I thought we played pretty well. I think if we can play like that every night we're going to come out on the other end most nights.''
Both teams had a slow start with neither creating any great chances in the opening minutes of the game.
The Predators opened the scoring midway through the first when Neal beat Anderson.
Notes: D Marc Methot missed the game due to the flu, allowing Chris Wideman to make his NHL debut. ... LW Clarke MacArthur missed his second straight game due to an upper-body injury. ... Nashville D Ellis left the game after blocking a shot and will be re-evaluated once the team returns to Nashville. He is listed as having a lower-body injury.