Fiala, Rinne help Predators beat struggling Rangers, 5-2

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Once Nashville got going, the struggling New York Rangers tried to stay close. However, the Predators just pulled away.

The Predators scored twice in the second period and three times in the third to beat the Rangers 5-2 Saturday night.

New York narrowed the deficit to one twice in the final two periods, but Nashville retaliated quickly both times.

”Really big to answer like that,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ”I don’t like the fact that we took three penalties in the third period. Right away, we had to play in the defensive zone and (they) were taking shots.”

Nashville’s Kevin Fiala scored twice and Pekka Rinne made 20 saves. P.K. Subban, Colton Sissons and Viktor Arvidsson also scored for the Predators, who improved to 8-1-1 in the last 10 games.

”We played fast and we played with energy and played a pretty smart game when we weren’t turning over a lot of pucks,” Sissons said.

Rinne has allowed only two goals in his last three games, including shutouts in his previous two outings. He extended the Predators’ second-longest shutout streak in franchise history to 171:47 before finally allowing a goal early in the third period

J.T. Miller and Mika Zibanjejad scored for New York, which had just eight shots on goal through two periods, and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 22 saves. The Rangers lost for the fifth time in six games.

”We’re losing too much and guys are out, but there’s only one way to turn around,” Lundqvist said. ”You’ve got to work on yourself and work really hard and not look for excuses. There’s no question it’s tough for us here.”

Nashville struck first when Subban fired a one-timer from the far side of the right faceoff circle past Lundqvist 19 seconds into the second period. The All-Star defenseman has 11 points in the last 10 games.

New York’s Peter Holland scored on a backhander that would have tied it at 10:14 of the second, but it was waved off when a replay showed Michael Grabner’s right skate was offside on the rush into Nashville’s zone.

Fiala’s 14th goal of the season, a wrist shot from the low slot that beat Lundqvist low to the glove side, increased the Predators’ lead to 2-0 with 2 1/2 mimnutes left in the middle period.

New York cut Nashville’s lead in half on Miller’s power-play goal 21 seconds into the third when his redirected shot got past Rinne.

Nashville went up 3-1 at 2:36 when Sissons tipped in a shot from in front of the crease.

New York pulled within one again on Zibanejad’s goal with 5:25 left in the third, but Arvidsson restored the Predators’ two-goal lead just 16 seconds later with his 17th.

Fiala capped the scoring on a power-play empty-netter with 2:04 left.

Rangers players Marc Staal and Jimmy Vesey went to the locker room for evaluations after being checked hard during a 24-second span midway through the second period. Nashville’s Alexi Emelin hit Staal into the boards behind Rinne at 9:48 and then Ryan Johannsen sent Vesey to the ice with a hit near Lundqvist.

”They both took shots to the head so (they) were held off and we’ll know more tomorrow,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.

NOTES: Nashville finished a stretch of eight home games in nine contests. … The Predators have been completely healthy for the first time all season in the past two games. … LW Cody McLeod was back in Nashville just nine days after he was claimed off waivers by the Rangers on Jan. 25. … The Predators recorded their 87th straight sellout (17,543).


Rangers: At Dallas on Monday.

Predators: At New York Islanders on Monday.