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Predators blow lead but beat Flyers 4-3 in shootout

by John Kreiser

For the Nashville Predators, the two points they got Tuesday night were worth waiting for.

The Predators blew a 3-1 lead in the third period, but Martin Erat scored the only goal of the shootout to give Nashville a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Pekka Rinne stopped 42 shots through 65 minutes and three more in the shootout to give the Preds their third consecutive win.

"Even though they had a lot of quality chances, most of their shots I was able to see," Rinne said. "We didn't play our best game, but we were still fighting for every single puck."

Steve Sullivan, Erat, and Jerred Smithson scored in the first period after Jeff Carter put Philadelphia ahead 81 seconds into the game. The Predators carried the two-goal lead into the final period, but goals by Simon Gagne and Chris Pronger 3:04 apart tied the game late in the third.

"When they tied it up, we did not sit back on our heels," captain Jason Arnott said. "You can say it was an ugly win, but we will take the two points and that is all that matters."

Carter opened the scoring at 1:21 of the opening period with a wrist shot from the low slot that beat Rinne high to the glove side for his 33rd goal of the season.

Sullivan tied it at just over three minutes later when he tapped in a puck underneath the pad of Philadelphia goaltender Michael Leighton. Erat gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 7:04 by wristing a pass from Arnott over Leighton's glove for his 20th of the season.

Leighton left the game at 9:45 after the Erat goal with a high ankle sprain, and Nashville scored just 20 seconds later against replacement Brian Boucher. He stopped Joel Ward's shot from the right dot, but Jerred Smithson was parked just outside the crease and backhanded the rebound in for his ninth goal of the season.

"I think every goalie is prepared just in case there is a slow start by the team or anything like that," Boucher said. "It is a little easier when it's that early; you are not sitting as long."

Gagne got the Flyers within a goal at 11:14 of the third. Pronger's goal came on a wrist shot from the low slot with the Flyers on a power play.

"The first period the score is 3-1," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. "We outchanced them 2-to-1, outshot them, and we were playing on our toes, but pucks end up in our net.

"In the third period, we were finally able to put some by him," Laviolette said of Rinne. "He's a big guy. We don't see them that office, and you don't realize how much net he takes up. I thought the guys stuck with it and fought hard to get the point."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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