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Weber powers Predators by Jets in Myers' debut

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE Shea Weber had a goal and two assists to give the Nashville Predators a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

Nashville (37-12-6) is 23-3-1 at home and has won 12 of its past 13 home games. The 23 wins at home are the most in the NHL. Winnipeg (28-19-10) had its two-game winning streak end.

"We knew that they were going to play hard," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "They’re in a position where they’re fighting, and they’re trying to make the most of everything that’s available to them. Those are good games for us to get into. The division games always seem to be a little bit tougher. Our games with Winnipeg have been the same, as well as tonight. Hard fought."

The Predators became the first team in the League to reach 80 points.

Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne made 32 saves in his 32nd win, which leads the League.

"I thought that tonight was as hard of a game as we’ve had this year," Rinne said. "It was a tight, even matchup, and both teams had some chances. Just a solid hockey game."

Weber gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at 4:47 of the first period on a one-timer from the point that went past Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Weber one-timed the pass from defenseman Roman Josi and scored on the power play for his 13th goal.

"Everybody knows his shot," Rinne said. "It’s just one shot and boom, it’s 1-0. It goes without saying, [Weber] is such a key player for us, our captain. It was nice to have him out there for sure. It didn’t really faze him. You couldn’t tell anything is wrong, and he was just himself."

Weber missed the morning skate Thursday, and the Predators recalled defenseman Taylor Aronson from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. Weber participated in the warm-up and was good to play. Aronson was the healthy scratch.

"There was more in there than just Shea," Laviolette said. "There was question marks that we had going on, so ultimately Aronson was brought up just as a precaution."

Winnipeg forward Michael Frolik tied the game 1-1 at 11:42 of the first on a redirection on the power play. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien took a slap shot from the point that Frolik was able to redirect past Rinne for his 11th goal.

"They spent a lot in there," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "They invested a lot in that game and didn’t win, so that hurts even more. Now you’ve got to reload. You’ve got to get back on your horse and get that good feeling. Everybody’s going to be awful quiet tonight, and then tomorrow we’ve got to get back to work."

Rookie forward Filip Forsberg gave Nashville a 2-1 lead at 3:38 of the second period. Forsberg took a snapshot from the faceoff circle that got past Pavelec. Forsberg’s goal was his 19th, and it broke Nashville’s record for goals in a season by a rookie (Alexander Radulov had 18 in 2006-07).

"It was pretty open to be honest," Forsberg said. "[Nashville defenseman Roman Josi] kind of pulled the whole PK over to one side and just gave it to me, so I had all the time in the world basically just to pick my corner. I got a really good screen from [forward James Neal] and also from their D-man so it was a pretty easy goal to score."

Neal gave Nashville a 3-1 lead at 16:10 of the third period after another power play opportunity expired. Neal’s goal was his 19th. Weber’s assist on the goal was his third point of the game.

Winnipeg had 1:31 of a two-man advantage in the third but was unable to convert. Josi and defenseman Seth Jones were out there for the entire kill of the two-man advantage.

"I was pretty tired," Jones said. "If [Weber] wasn’t in the box, he would have been out there. I just tried to stay in my lane, and I was gasping for some air after that shift."

Defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Drew Stafford made their debuts for the Jets after being traded from the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. Myers got hit with a shot from Weber and left the game in the third.

"Didn’t feel good," Myers said. "Not a guy you like blocking shots from, but it’s necessary if you want to try and win hockey games."

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