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game recap

Predators extend Central lead with win against Jets

Three goals in first, Rinne's 32 saves help Nashville move eight points ahead

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators extended their Central Division lead to eight points with a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for Nashville (45-14-10), which scored three goals (two shorthanded) in the first 8:49 of the game.

The Predators are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the NHL standings with 100 points. The Lightning lost 7-4 against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

 

[WATCH: All Jets vs. Predators highlights]

 

"I feel like even as a team and me too personally, I think it's a goal that we can say out loud," Rinne said of finishing first in the NHL. "It's something that we haven't done before here. That would mean a lot to all of us, for our fans too.

"This building, there's not too many banners in here, and that would be great. I think that's our goal. Obviously right now, things are going for us. If I understood correctly, Tampa lost tonight. So, that was good for us."

Kyle Connor scored for Winnipeg (41-19-10), and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves in relief after Michael Hutchinson allowed three goals on 15 shots.

Video: WPG@NSH: Connor pots PPG, Laine extends point streak

"It was a tough game for us tonight, but they handled it like men," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "You never like to lose. I don't care what your lineup looks like, but you want to walk away feeling like even if you weren't good that you [played] hard. They gave what they had."

Kevin Fiala gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 2:48 of the first period on a wrist shot from the slot. Roman Josi made a backhand pass on the rush to Fiala for his 22nd goal.

Video: Kevin Fiala talks about the win against the Jets

"The two points, we had marked it as a game that had to go our way as we sit here and push toward it late in the season in trying to battle for what we need to do in order to better ourselves for the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Obviously the division, the conference, those are things we talk about, so the two points were very important."

Austin Watson made it 2-0 at 8:15 with a shorthanded goal. It was his 12th goal of the season.

Viktor Arvidsson scored shorthanded 34 seconds later on a one-timer from the slot to make it 3-0.

"A penalty kill has to outwork the power play," Watson said. "We have less guys on the ice, we have to put that much extra effort into it. I think when you do that and when you're being aggressive and forcing turnovers, sometimes the puck can get behind the other team and you get a chance to go on a little bit of an odd-man rush."

Connor scored for the Jets to make it 3-1 at 1:08 of the third period. It was his 23rd goal.

Patrik Laine extended his point streak to 13 games on Connor's goal.

 

Goal of the game

Watson's goal at 8:15 of the first period.

Video: WPG@NSH: Watson whips SHG by Hutchinson

 

Save of the game

Rinne's save against Nikolaj Ehlers at 12:04 of the second period.

Video: WPG@NSH: Rinne gloves down Ehlers' wrister

 

Highlight of the game

Arvidsson's goal at 8:49 of the first period.

Video: WPG@NSH: Arvidsson pots SHG off pass from Forsberg

 

They said it

"You know what, the power play is running No. 2 in the National Hockey League. It's going to have an off night every once in a while. (We) still found a way to score a big goal, even when your confidence gets rocked a little bit. Some real good determination to make that go to 3-1, so it'll be fine." -- Jets coach Paul Maurice

"It's big. Just where they are in the standings too, they're in second place. We knew it was a big game to distance them a little bit more. They're a tough team to play. We've had some tough games against them, and it's huge for us to get a couple wins." -- Predators defenseman Roman Josi

 

Need to know

Hutchinson left the game because of an upper-body injury after Arvidsson's goal. He did not receive a concussion diagnosis, according to Maurice. He will be re-evaluated Wednesday. … The Jets were without forward Paul Stastny, who Maurice said "stiffened up" during warmups. … Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok left the game in the third period after a hit from Jets forward Andrew Copp and did not return. … The shorthanded goals by Watson and Arvidsson were the first time in Predators history they have scored two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill. … The Predators played their 69th game, which is the fewest amount of games they've needed to reach 100 points in their history. The previous mark was 73 games, set in 2006-07.

 

What's next

Jets: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, TSN3, NHL.TV)

Predators: At the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; FS-TN, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV)

Video: Rinne continues hot stretch as Preds beat Jets, 3-1

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