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Nashville Predators 4, New York Rangers 2 FINAL

NHL.com @NHL

NEW YORK (AP) _ Scott Walker has more points than any player in Nashville Predators history. Now he wants to start working on his playoff numbers.

Walker had two assists Thursday night to pass Cliff Ronning on the Predators' scoring list and help Nashville to a club-record 35th victory, 4-2 over the New York Rangers.

More importantly, Nashville, which missed the playoffs its first five NHL seasons, vaulted over Edmonton into seventh place in the Western Conference. The Predators have 84 points, one more than the Oilers and St. Louis.

Walker scored his 100th NHL goal Tuesday night in a disappointing home loss to non-contending Anaheim, but he and the Predators rebounded against the Rangers _ another also-ran.

``I didn't know those things because there's so much pressure on us to do well right now,'' said Walker, who has 227 points with Nashville. ``The last thing I'm thinking about is how many points I got. I always said I'd give up so many points to be 10 points clear (in the standings).''

Walker was selected by Nashville in the expansion draft and has never been in the playoffs in his 10 NHL seasons.

``With the win, maybe it'll give us that boost to go home and keep this thing going,'' Walker said. ``What a thrill at the end of the rainbow if we keep this going, get a few more wins here and get in.''

Andreas Johansson and Martin Erat scored third-period goals to turn a 2-2 tie into a victory.

It was just Nashville's second victory in 10 games (2-4-3-1). The Predators are two games into a five-game stretch of consecutive games against non-playoff contenders.

They play Columbus at home on Saturday and then a home-and-home series with another Central Division-rival Chicago.

``They're all playing for next year,'' forward Jim McKenzie said. ``They don't want to see us get in. Nobody is happy for anybody to get in.''

Defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Mark Eaton also scored for Nashville. Steve Sullivan had three assists to give him two goals and 12 assists in his last 11 games, and eight goals and 19 assists in 19 games since being acquired from Chicago.

Johansson kept the Predators from another bad loss when he scored 4:57 into the third period, taking a pass in front from Walker and putting a shot past Mike Dunham.

Tomas Vokoun made 26 saves for the victory that was sealed when Erat scored with 1:47 left.

``It's fun stress, it's fun pressure, but everyone's on edge and playing their hardest,'' Walker said. ``Everyone is in the training room getting worked on and just trying to get to the playoffs.''

Jaromir Jagr reached 30 goals for 13th straight season and Karel Rachunek also scored for New York, which dropped its eighth straight (0-5-0-3). Counting overtime losses, New York has been beaten a team-record 46 times.

``I don't really have much to say,'' forward Bobby Holik said. ``We have our own things to worry about. Whether it's Nashville or anybody else, we don't find a way to win.''

The Rangers have four games remaining before they close their seventh consecutive season without a playoff appearance. Captain Mark Messier sat out the second and final game of his NHL suspension for spearing.

Thomas Pock earned an assist on Rachunek's goal giving him two points in two games since he was signed out of the University of Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Zidlicky opened the scoring at 13:19 of the first period when Johansson deftly controlled the puck behind the net and then found Zidlicky at the right post for a slam shot past Dunham.

The rookie scored his 14th goal, first in 10 games, and ran his scoring surge to two goals and nine assists in 13 games.

New York tied it just 3:35 later on Rachunek's second of the season and first since being acquired from Ottawa earlier this month in the Rangers' trading spurt that stripped the roster of veteran players.

Rachunek got to a loose puck between the circles and ripped a shot that beat Vokoun to snap a 36-game goal drought.

Nashville needed only 1:08 to regain the lead, this time with the teams skating four-on-four, when Eaton scored his first goal in 35 games.

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