Neal scores twice and Predators beat Rangers 5-3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Leading 2-1 after two periods against one of the league's top offenses, the Nashville Predators successfully went into attack mode to close things out.
James Neal scored twice, Nashville scored three times to open the final period and the Predators held off the New York Rangers 5-3 on Monday night.
Craig Smith, Ryan Ellis and Neal scored in the first 11:13 of the third period, making two late goals by the Rangers meaningless. Filip Forsberg also scored, Mike Ribeiro had three assists and Roman Josi had two assists. Pekka Rinne made 26 saves and Nashville won for the third time in four games against a Rangers team that's tied for third in the NHL with 106 goals.
''You have to be on your toes when you are playing against them,'' Neal said. ''They are going to come at you with skill all the time, so great win.''
Jesper Fast, Rick Nash and J.T. Miller scored, but New York lost its fourth in five games.
Forsberg got the first goal with 1:04 left in the first period.
With Nashville on a power play, Josi sent a pass from the right boards to Forsberg on the left faceoff dot, where he sent a one-timer by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, a fellow Swede, on the stick side.
''He's obviously really big back home and it was a big goal to get the team on the board as well,'' Forsberg said. ''So that will be one I remember.''
Forsberg has three goals in his last two games and extended his point streak to five games.
Fast tied the game at 6:59 of the second. Standing in the low slot, he deflected Dan Girardi's shot from the right point between Rinne's pads.
Girardi returned to the Rangers lineup after missing five games with a small crack in his right kneecap.
Nashville regained the lead at 13:48 of the second on Neal's 14th of the season. From the high slot, he beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot that glanced off of the left post and in.
Smith gave Nashville a two-goal lead at 7:34 of the third when he tipped home Josi's shot from the high slot.
That goal came just 2:16 after Forsberg appeared to make it 3-1 at 5:18 with a shot from behind the New York net, but the goal was overturned when the Rangers challenged. Upon review, it was determined that Smith interfered with Lundqvist on the play.
''I think when those things happen, if it doesn't go your way, it can be a deflating thing,'' Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ''We were talking about it on the bench before it even happened that the next shift was a big one to come back and press and push.''
Ellis scored at 9:52 of the third on Nashville's second power-play goal of the night. Neal scored his second of the game at 11:13.
''I felt pretty good for 2 1/2 periods and then a couple of minutes, it just snowballed again,'' Lundqvist said. ''It's tough on your confidence obviously, but you just have to work through it.''
Lundqvist was relieved by Antti Raanta following Neal's second goal. Lundqvist made 30 saves on 35 shots against.
''Tonight was nothing about Henrik,'' New York coach Alain Vigneault said. ''They were teeing it up from the ladies' tee. At 5-1, I thought it was time to give him a break. He gave us a chance. As a team, we need to respond better.''
Nash scored an unassisted goal at 13:20 of the third and Miller followed with his eighth of the season at 16:02.
NOTES: Rangers D Kevin Klein, a former Predator, returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with an oblique injury. ... Nashville has scored at least one power-play goal in four of their last five games. ... The Predators are 15-3-3 when scoring first this season. ... Nashville C Mike Fisher played his first game since sustaining a lower-body injury Dec. 1.