Smith scores twice, Predators beat Jets 4-2
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) The Nashville Predators are pulling away from the pack.
Craig Smith scored twice and the Nashville Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 on Tuesday night to extend their franchise-record point streak to 13 games.
The Preds are 9-0-4 over that span and pulled eight points ahead of Minnesota and Colorado for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
''Whether it's ugly or not, I don't think anybody is worried about that,'' Smith said. ''You just try to get better as the game goes on, have speed and go through the ups and downs.''
Colton Sissons and Ryan Johansen also scored for the Predators, and Sissons added an assist and Colin Wilson had a pair of helpers. Pekka Rinne turned aside 21 shots. Nashville is 9-0-4 in its last 13 games.
Forward Drew Stafford and defenseman Jacob Trouba had goals for Winnipeg, while Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves.
''I don't think I saw something different than other games tonight,'' Pavelec said. ''Every team tries to score. They've got some big presence in front of the net, that's for sure. I had to battle through the traffic to see the puck, but that's what the good teams do.''
The loss ended Winnipeg's five-game homestand with only one victory (1-3-1).
Stafford opened the scoring at 7:28 of the first, but Smith and Sissons scored 11 seconds apart late in the period.
Stafford snapped a 12-game goal drought with his 17th of the season when he flipped in a rebound at the side of the net off Dustin Byfuglien's point shot.
Smith then recorded his 17th when he took a pass across the front of the crease from Viktor Arvidsson and beat Pavelec at 19:19.
Sissons, who was called up from Milwaukee of the AHL on Monday after an injury to Paul Gaustad, hadn't played since Dec. 26 and scored at 19:30. It was his second goal in his 20th game of the season.
''The last time I got recalled, I had a good night, too,'' Sissons said. ''I scored a goal and our line was plus-four. It's something about those first games after getting recalled.''
Defenseman Shea Weber got his 25th assist of the year on Sissons' goal. That extended the captain's point streak to four games, with two goals and four helpers since he missed three games with a lower-body injury.
Rinne helped his team keep the lead in a scoreless second with some big saves, while Pavelec did the same at the other end.
With 6:07 left in the second, Predators forward Austin Watson was tossed from the game for a head shot on Marko Dano along the boards. Dano lay on the ice for a few minutes and went to the dressing room for a bit, but returned.
Winnipeg got a 5-minute power play, but after a few wide shots and others blocked by Nashville's stingy defense, the Jets didn't get a shot on goal. The Preds had a 16-15 edge on shots heading into the third.
Johansen almost didn't score his 11th of the season. He whiffed on his first shot alone at the side of Winnipeg's net, but a quick second attempt went past Pavelec at 8:54 for the 3-1 lead.
Trouba made it 3-2 at 13:37, but Smith's second of the game at 15:21 sealed another victory.
NOTES: Nashville continues its five-game trip on Wednesday night with the third game in Calgary. ... Winnipeg hits the road to face Detroit on Thursday night.