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Neal's two goals help Predators defeat Rangers

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- James Neal scored two goals in the Nashville Predators' 5-3 win against the New York Rangers at Bridgestone Arena on Monday.

Filip Forsberg extended his point streak to five games when he scored a power-play goal to give the Predators a 1-0 lead with 1:04 left in the first period. Defenseman Roman Josi made a cross-ice feed through traffic that Forsberg one-timed past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for his 10th goal.

"I think we did a really good job with being in front of the net," Forsberg said. "Obviously, a lot of the goals were with traffic involved. If he can't see the puck, he can't stop it, so obviously I think that's the biggest thing."

The Predators (18-12-6) have won three of their past four games.

Rangers forward Jesper Fast tied it 1-1 at 6:59 of the second period when he tipped defenseman Dan Girardi's point shot past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne for his sixth goal. Girardi returned to the lineup after missing five games because of swelling in his knee.

Neal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 13:48 of the second when his wrist shot from the slot beat Lundqvist. He was trailing the play, and center Mike Ribeiro hit him with a pass on the rush.

"It's 60 minutes," Neal said. "Something we've put emphasis on is having better second periods. Tonight, we slipped a little bit, but I think we played a good, solid game. You have to be on your toes when you're playing against them. They're going to come at you with skill all the time, so great win."

Ribeiro had three assists to extend his point streak to four games.

"I think when we're a team that brings emotion to the game, we're a different team," Ribeiro said. "We play with more energy to our game, and we're just faster at getting pucks, we're forechecking, we're creating turnovers. It's just hard to bring that every night, so you have to find a way to motivate yourself."

Forsberg scored an apparent goal at 5:18 of the third period, but Rangers coach Alain Vigneault challenged, and it was disallowed after video review determined Predators forward Craig Smith interfered with Lundqvist.

Nashville responded with three goals in the next 5:55.

"That's a big difference," Neal said. "It was still a 2-1 game. That would have been a huge goal from [Forsberg]. I didn't really see that contact, but it got ruled over. We kept on the gas and finished it off with a huge win. That's a great team over there, and we played well after that and gave ourselves a big two points."

Smith put the Predators up 3-1 at 7:34 when he redirected Josi's shot from the point past Lundqvist for his eighth goal. The goal was upheld after video review determined Smith's stick was not above the crossbar when it contacted the puck.

Ryan Ellis gave Nashville a 4-1 lead at 9:52 with a power-play goal. Ellis one-timed defenseman Seth Jones' pass from the right point past Lundqvist for his fourth of the season.

Neal scored his second of the game and 15th of the season at 11:13 to give the Predators a 5-1 lead. Forward Calle Jarnkrok passed the puck to Neal, who was able to direct the puck past Lundqvist.

Lundqvist, who made 30 saves on 35 shots, was replaced by Antti Raanta at that point; Raanta did not face a shot in 5:19.

"We did a lot of good things," Lundqvist said. "It was just a few minutes in the third, we got hurt big time. It's been the case in too many games now, and it's extremely disappointing and frustrating. Personally, you try to work really hard to get a good game and be there. Then in a few minutes, it's just all destroyed. It's definitely challenging, but all you can do is work even harder and try to be positive about the good things and hopefully it will turn around."

The Rangers (20-13-4) have lost four of their past five games.

New York forward Rick Nash's 11th goal made it 5-2 at 13:20. Rinne attempted to clear the puck, but Nash intercepted it and scored into an open net.

J.T. Miller scored to make it 5-3 with 3:58 remaining on a wrist shot from the slot for his eighth goal.

Predators forward Mike Fisher returned after missing 11 games with a lower-body injury.

"It was a good [third period]," Fisher said. "We didn't want to keep them hanging around too long. They did make a push, obviously, at the end, but our third was in general pretty good. Overall, I thought we played hard."

New York defenseman Kevin Klein returned after missing 11 games with an oblique injury.

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