National Hockey League
- Bridgestone Arena PUCK DROP -
NY Rangers Rangers
ML: NYR +118
Nashville Predators
ML: NAS -130
Goalie Performance
Henrik Lundqvist
#30 G Henrik Lundqvist
Pekka Rinne
#35 G Pekka Rinne
0.857 SV% 30 SV
0.897 SV% 26 SV
Scoring Leaders
Chris Kreider
#20 LW Chris Kreider Goals Assists 0 2
J.T. Miller
#10 C J.T. Miller Goals Assists 1 0
Rick Nash
#61 LW Rick Nash Goals Assists 1 0
Mike Ribeiro
#63 C Mike Ribeiro Goals Assists 0 3
James Neal
#18 RW James Neal Goals Assists 2 0
Roman Josi
#59 D Roman Josi Goals Assists 0 2

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators could have sagged when a goal that would have given them a two-goal lead early in the third period was disallowed via replay.

Instead, they simply pumped in three that did count to put away the struggling New York Rangers.

Right winger Craig Smith, defenseman Ryan Ellis and right winger James Neal scored in a span of 3:39 Monday night as Nashville notched a 5-3 win at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

Neal, whose marker at 13:48 of the second period snapped a 1-1 tie, collected two goals in a game for the fourth time this season. Center Mike Ribeiro bagged three assists, giving him eight points in the past four games, and defenseman Roman Josi continued his red-hot December with two helpers, upping his point total to 14 for the month.

However, to players and coaches alike, the game's defining moment was the Predators' response when left winger Filip Forsberg's goal was erased after a review determined that Smith was in the crease interfering with goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"We were talking about it on the bench before it happened, that the next shift was the most important one," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "We had to keep pushing. We did, and we got rewarded."

Smith made up for his interference by deflecting Josi's point blast by Lundqvist at 7:34, just over two minutes after Forsberg's tally was denied. Lundqvist protested that Smith played the puck with his stick above the crossbar, but replay upheld the officials' call.

Ellis bombed home a one-timer on the power play at 9:52 for his fourth goal, making it 4-1, and Neal potted a rebound at 11:13 for his 15th goal of the season to cap the game-deciding spurt.

"We kept going for it, and that's the biggest thing you've got to do," Forsberg said.

Less than a minute after Neal's tally, New York coach Alain Vigneault pulled Lundqvist (16-10-3) during a TV timeout, the fourth time in 12 games he yanked the veteran before time expired.

"Tonight was nothing about Henrik," Vigneault said of his star netminder, who had 30 saves. "They were teeing it up from the ladies' tees. When it was 5-1, I thought it was time to give him a break. He gave us a chance."

Antti Raanta replaced Lundqvist, and he didn't face a shot the rest of the way.

It was the 12th loss in 16 games for the Rangers (20-13-4), who have allowed a whopping 60 goals in that span, including five or more on seven occasions. In its 16-3-2 start to the season, New York conceded only 38 goals, with Lundqvist bagging two shutouts -- including one over Nashville that capped the hot streak.

"I felt really good for 2 1/2 periods tonight, and then everything snowballed," Lundqvist said.

The Predators stormed the Rangers' zone from the outset, firing seven shots on Lundqvist in the first six minutes. They didn't initiate scoring, however, until Forsberg ripped a one-timer on the power play at 18:56 of the first period.

New York equalized at 6:59 of the second period when right winger Jesper Fast deflected a wrister from the point by defenseman Dan Girardi for his sixth goal. Continuing to press the attack, the Rangers yielded an odd-man rush and Neal cashed in with a wrister from the high slot.

After Nashville's game-sealing sequence, New York made cosmetic changes to the final score as left winger Rick Nash and center J.T. Miller collected their 11th and eighth goals, respectively, in a 2:42 span.

However, it wasn't nearly enough to prevent the Predators from improving to 18-12-6 ahead of a stretch in which they play 11 of the next 14 on the road, starting Tuesday night in St. Louis.

"We know what's ahead of us and the difficulty of our schedule," Laviolette said. "We need to string together some wins."

Goalie Pekka Rinne (15-10-6) made 26 saves in the win.

NOTES: New York D Dan Girardi (cracked kneecap) and D Kevin Klein (oblique) returned to the lineup after missing five and 11 games, respectively. ... Nashville C Mike Fisher (lower-body injury) returned after an 11-game absence. The team returned C Colton Sissons to Milwaukee of the AHL. ... Rangers scratches were D Dylan McIlrath and RW Emerson Etem. ... The Predators scratched C Cody Hodgson, along with Ds Anthony Bitetto and Petter Granberg.
Top Game Performances
NY Rangers   Nashville
Chris Kreider 2 Points Mike Ribeiro 3
Jesper Fast 1 Goals James Neal 2
Chris Kreider 2 Assists Mike Ribeiro 3
N/A Power Play Goals Ryan Ellis 1
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Henrik Lundqvist .857 Save Percentage Pekka Rinne .897
Henrik Lundqvist 30 Saves Pekka Rinne 26
Team Stats Summary
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
NY Rangers 29 3 0-1 0-2 4 23
Nashville 35 5 2-2 1-1 2 36
Upcoming Games
  • Nashville will play their next game on the road against St. Louis. The Predators have a W/L % of .353 after a win and .632 after a loss.
  • NY Rangers will play their next game on the road against Tampa Bay. The Rangers have a W/L % of .619 after a win and .438 after a loss.