NASHVILLE -- Ryan Johansen and James Neal each had a goal and an assist to help the Nashville Predators to a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.
Nashville (36-22-13) improved to 18-10-6 at home and has one regulation loss in its past 17 games (11-1-5). They are nine points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
New York (38-22-9) has one win in its past five games (1-2-2). The Islanders are one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, for third place in the Metropolitan Division with one game in hand.
Neal gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 9:15 of the first period on a wrist shot from the slot. Forward Calle Jarnkrok made a cross-ice pass through traffic that Neal shot past Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss for his 27th goal.
Video: NYI@NSH: Neal opens the scoring midway through 1st
"The last two games, [the first line has] really been feeling it," Johansen said. "Like we all know, [Predators forward Mike Ribeiro's] line has really been carrying the load offensively with the other two lines chipping in as well. For us, we've done well defensively but it's nice to be back on the contributing side and getting some pucks in the net."
Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock tied the game 1-1 at 6:02 of the second period on a wrist shot from the point. Pulock took the puck from forward John Tavares and took the shot through traffic that beat Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne for his first NHL goal.
Ryan Ellis gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 8:13 of the second period on the power play. Johansen passed the puck to Ellis, who took a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that beat Greiss for his eighth goal.
Video: NYI@NSH: Pulock registers his first career NHL goal
"It was a great play, even getting in the zone and turning up," Ellis said. "[Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm] getting a little ice, and then [Johansen made] a great pass across the seam. Good net-front presence as well so it's all things that we work on every day in the practice, and it's finally coming together."
Johansen gave the Predators a 3-1 lead at 9:54 of the second period on a wrist shot on the rush. Neal made a backhand pass that sprung Johansen into the offensive zone, and he beat Greiss over the shoulder for his 12th goal.
"That [pass] was great," Johansen said. "Just the way [Neal] thinks the game, his instincts and his hockey sense. Just knowing that I'm going to be there. Just trying to use as much speed as I can there to be available, and he gave me a perfect pass on my backhand. Nice to be able to get one in there."
Video: NYI@NSH: Nelson charges to the net, scores his 23rd
Islanders forward Brock Nelson scored to make it 3-2 at 1:55 of the third period on a wrist shot from the slot. Nelson made a backhand-to-forehand move and took a shot that slid through Rinne's pads and into the net for his 23rd goal.
"I don't have the answer for why guys don't shoot pucks," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We've played pretty well against this team. We're 3-0 in the last two years coming in. We had 30, 40 shots, I think over 45 in the first game we played them. It's been the same theme for us. It's the common denominator that we try to make the sexy play. We don't want to get pucks to the net."
Austin Watson added an empty net goal to give the Predators a 4-2 lead.
Video: NYI@NSH: Rinne makes a pair of strong stops in 2nd
Rinne made 20 saves for Nashville; Greiss made 28 saves for New York.
New York forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Casey Cizikas each missed the game with an undisclosed injury and have returned home.
"Grabovski is home, [defenseman Marek Zidlicky] is home, [goaltender Jaroslav Halak] is home, and now Cizikas could be day-to-day," Capuano said. "Hopefully we'll know more [Friday] for sure."
Video: Johansen, Neal both have two-point nights in 4-2 win