The Associated PressNASHVILLE (AP) — A year after an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, the Nashville Predators have been hard at work preparing for the postseason.
It’s just a happy byproduct that they’ve matched the NHL’s longest winning streak this season in the process. Austin Watson scored a short-handed goal late in the second period and the Predators beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on Thursday night to extend their franchise-record run to 10 games.
The Predators also matched Colorado for the longest winning streak in the NHL this season. The victory kept Nashville’s edge at six points ahead of Winnipeg and Vegas for the Western Conference lead.
“We’re focused on the process and what we need to do to be ready come playoff time,” Predators center Ryan Johansen said. “We’re just taking it day-by-day and looking at our team game and what we can always be improving on and these wins are obviously nice as they keep coming along.”
Pekka Rinne made 31 saves to improve to 18-1-1 over his last 20 games.
Johansen had a goal and an assist and also fought with Ducks center Ryan Kesler.
“What did he have, a fight, a goal and an assist?” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “That’s old school.”
Craig Smith and Viktor Arvidsson each scored. Filip Forsberg had two assists for Nashville, which honored David Poile before the game for becoming career wins leader among NHL general managers with his 1,320th victory last week.
Rickard Rakell scored twice in the third period for the Ducks, who snapped a three-game winning streak. Rakell’s second goal at 16:35 pulled the Ducks within 3-2 before Arvidsson scored over goalie John Gibson’s glove with 1:46 left.
The Predators swept the three-game season series against the Ducks, the same team they beat for the Western Conference championship last year.
The puck didn’t drop until after a pregame ceremony for Poile, who got the record March 1 in Nashville’s 4-2 victory at Edmonton.