Smith scores twice to lead Predators over Bruins 5-3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) With his team struggling in the third period, Predators coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout that helped swing the momentum.
Craig Smith scored twice and added an assist, and Nashville held off the Boston Bruins 5-3 on Monday night.
Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, and Nick Bonino and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, which has won three of four. Pekka Rinne made 37 saves.
Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara and David Pastrnak had the goals for Boston, which won its previous two games.
After the Predators raced out to a 4-0 lead, the Bruins cut it to 4-3 at 5:48 of the third. Laviolette used his lone timeout to try and halt the surge.
”One, just to stop the game, maybe send it in a different direction,” Laviolette said. ”Two, just to send a message that we’ve got to keep playing. I thought we were playing too much defense at that point. We needed to get back on the attack and look to create some offense.”
Forsberg scored 34 seconds later and Nashville never looked back.
On a delayed offside just inside the Predators blue line, Boston’s David Backes could not touch the puck. Nashville captain Roman Josi picked up the puck and found Forsberg with a pass in the neutral zone, sending him in on a breakaway. Forsberg beat goalie Tuukka Rask with a wrist shot that glanced off the inside of the right post.
”It’s kind of a goofy play that’s offside, but it’s still 140 feet from our net,” Backes said. ”I think we can maybe get onside, still pressure it and they send a long pass to our blue line and sneak behind us and score a goal to make it a two-goal game again.”
Forsberg has at least one point in each of Nashville’s 14 home games this season.
”We were struggling big there in the third,” Josi said. ”Obviously, two quick goals. You’re up 4-1, you don’t want to give up two quick goals. When (Forsberg) has that puck on a breakaway in a dangerous spot, he always scores.”
Smith scored the game’s first goal at 1:26 of the opening period. Boston goalie Anton Khudobin stopped Alexei Emelin’s slap shot from the left point, but Smith was positioned in the slot to bang home the rebound.
Smith struck again with 17.4 seconds remaining in the first.
From the left point, Mattias Ekholm sent a pass to Smith in the slot, sending him in on a partial breakaway. Smith beat Khudobin high to the glove side with a wrist shot for his 11th of the season.
”Just shooting the puck, having fun, making plays,” Smith said. ”We’ve got a good line going right now. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I’ve changed very much. Took some of that preparation from last year and just continued to do it through this year.”
Bonino made it 3-0 at 2:15 of the second.
Bonino won a faceoff back to Viktor Arvidsson at the top of the left circle. Arvidsson’s shot hit Colton Sissons and the puck bounced to Bonino on the left side, where he had a virtually open net to put in his fifth of the season.
Fiala’s goal at 4:10 spelled the end of the night for Khudobin. He allowed four goals on 14 shots and fell to 7-1-2 this season.
”When we made mistakes, we allowed them the good ice uncontested,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”You can’t do that against any team, let alone a team like Nashville. Some mistakes there that were big ones.”
Rask made 10 saves in relief.
McAvoy got the Bruins on the scoreboard at 10:14 of the second on a power play. From behind the Nashville net, Danton Heinen sent a pass to McAvoy at the right faceoff dot, where he beat Rinne with a one-timer low to the far side.
Boston made things interesting early in the third, getting goals from Chara and Pastrnak 1:15 apart to draw within one less than six minutes into the period.
NOTES: Nashville D Yannick Weber returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. … Predators C Ryan Johansen missed the game with an upper-body injury. … Smith scored 12 goals in 78 games last season. … Backes had an assist, giving him 500 points in his NHL career. … The Predators failed to score a power-play goal for the first time at home this season. … The Bruins have not allowed a power-play goal in nine of their last 10 games.
Bruins: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
Predators: At the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
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