Predators-Ducks Preview

The Nashville Predators have been involved in some thrilling games lately, more often than not coming up with a victory to help lead them to the top of the Central Division.

A tight contest with the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks may not have such a favorable result.

Nashville seeks its fourth victory in five tries as it visits Anaheim on Sunday night.

The Predators (25-9-3) lead Chicago by one point with a game in hand atop the Central and are in the midst of a 3-0-1 stretch. They’ve gone 4-0-1 in their last five one-goal games, including a 7-6 overtime victory over Los Angeles on Saturday.

Nashville didn’t make it easy, though, blowing a 5-1 lead before Roman Josi’s winner 18 seconds into the extra session. The Kings scored three goals within the last 2:01 of the third to tie it.

”It was definitely not the ending we planned,” Josi said. ”We were up 6-3 with a couple of minutes to go. You want to win that game in regulation. It was a good job by our team staying with it, but we have to do a better job at the end.”

Nashville also blew a 3-0 lead before losing to the Blackhawks 5-4 in a shootout Monday. Coach Peter Laviolette is content with moving on and not dwelling on Saturday’s collapse.

”If it ends 6-3, you like everything about the game,” Laviolette said. ”You don’t like the fact that they scored three goals to tie it up and bring it into overtime for us to win it. But at the end of the day, it’s two points, and there was an answer to the three goals they scored.”

The Ducks (25-9-6) are no strangers to nail biters, with 16 of their last 18 victories coming by one goal. Matt Beleskey scored 10:55 into the third period Friday to beat St. Louis 4-3.

Anaheim is the only NHL club without a regulation loss in games decided by a goal with a 19-0-6 mark. Four of their last five have been decided by that margin.

"We find a way. Sometimes it doesn’t look like we deserve it, but we find a way to win," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We’re used to the situation. We know what we have to do in the third period. We play with a lot more structure."

Kyle Palmieri scored after missing the previous six with a shoulder injury. Frederik Andersen made 39 saves and is 4-1-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average in his last six starts.

"Freddie was unbelievable in the net. He gave us a good chance to win," said defenseman Sami Vatanen, who had two assists. "These are always big points against conference teams. It keeps us mentally (strong)."

Nashville lost five straight meetings with the Ducks before Mike Fisher, who has two goals and two assists in his last four, scored twice and added an assist in a 5-2 win April 4 in Anaheim. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves in that contest, but the Predators may elect to start Carter Hutton on Sunday to close the back-to-back set.

Hutton is 0-3-1 with a 2.74 GAA in four starts this season. He lost 5-2 in his only career starts against the Ducks on Feb. 8.

It’s unclear if Predators forward James Neal will be available for this contest after sitting out Saturday with a lower-body injury.