NEW YORK (AP) — Coming off back-to-back losses, the Nashville Predators came through with a strong defensive effort and some timely goals to get a needed win.
Roman Josi had two goals and an assist, Juuse Saros stopped 39 shots, and the Predators beat the New York Rangers 5-2 Monday night.
Rocco Grimaldi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis also scored to help the Predators win for the third time in five games.
“We did a bit of soul-searching and tonight was a good step in the right direction,” Ellis said. “We need to continue that. … It was just a complete game.”
Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin scored, and Alexandar Georgiev made 19 saves for the Rangers, losers of three of their last five (2-2-1).
“They’re a good hockey team,” said the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad, who had two assists. “You can’t really give them anything. They take advantage of that and that’s what they did today.”
The Rangers went 0 for 4 on the power play, with Saros stopping all 11 shots during the man advantages.
“We had to defend a lot, so we did some good things out there,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “Juuse was good in net.”
Nashville was outshot 15-8 in the first period and 13-7 in the second but scored twice in the middle period to take a 3-1 lead heading to the third.
With the score tied at 1 after 20 minutes, Panarin nearly gave the Rangers the lead early in the second period. His shot hit a goalpost, and the spinning puck dropped on the goal line but didn’t cross it. The no-goal was confirmed by a review.
Panarin also had a shot hit the left post about seven minutes into the middle period.
“They had some chances — that one was dancing on our goal line — and they had some more chances,” Ekholm said. “Playing good defense and capitalizing on our chances was huge.”
Josi gave the Predators their second lead. He brought the puck up the right side, skated into the right circle and fired a shot between the legs of defenseman Adam Fox and past Georgiev for his eighth with 9:44 remaining in the period.
Just after a cross-checking penalty expired on Ekholm, the defenseman joined the play, brought the puck up the right side, skated toward the middle and beat Georgiev into the top left corner for his fifth with 3:37 left in the second.
Kyle Turris hit a goalpost for Nashville 7 1/2 minutes into the third, and Saros made a nice stop on Zibanejad’s shot from the right side midway through the period to keep it a two-goal game.
Panarin pulled the Rangers within one as he got a pass from Zibanejad and fired it past Saros for his 20th with 2:42 left.
However, Josi sealed it with an empty-netter 53 seconds later for his second of the night and ninth of the season. Ellis added another empty-netter in the closing seconds.
“Our overall effort was huge,” Ekholm said. “We’ve got to step it up and this was a real big step for us.”
Grimaldi got the Predators on the scoreboard first. On a rush with Josi, Grimaldi brought the puck up the left side, went toward the middle and fired a shot that went off the shin of Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei and trickled past Georgiev for his fourth with 9:24 left in the opening period.
The Rangers tied it just 34 seconds later when Zibanejad brought the puck up the middle off a turnover, crossed the blue line and passed left to Kreider, who quickly beat Saros for his eighth.
Skjei had a chance to get the Rangers the lead with about five minutes left, but his attempts in front where stopped by Saros. New York was also stopped on several tries in front about 90 seconds later.
NOTES: Zibanejad has five points (four goals, one assist) in a three-game point streak. … Kreider has two goals and three assists in his last five games. … Panarin snapped a four-game point streak in which he had six goals and two assists. … Predators F Victor Arvidsson, recovering from a lower body injury sustained on Nov 23, skated with the team and could be ready to return by the end of the four-game trip. … Grimaldi has three goals and six points in his last 10 games. … Josi got his first goals since he had two against Chicago on Nov. 16.
Predators: At the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
Rangers: Host Toronto on Friday night.
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