NASHVILLE — Nino Niederreiter scored twice in the first period and the Carolina Hurricanes held off the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Saturday night to sweep the season series.
Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist and Justin Williams and Jordan Martinook also scored. The Hurricanes snapped a two-game skid to keep their spot in the first wild-card in the Eastern Conference.
Teuvo Teravainen had two assists, and goalie Petr Mrazek improved to 8-0-0 against Nashville.
Mikael Granlund, Brian Boyle and Craig Smith scored for the Predators.
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette pulled goalie Juuse Saros with about 2:33 left, and Granlund scored with 2:28 left in regulation from right in front with officials waving it off both on the ice and after an initial review for interference by Boyle who collided with Mrazek. The Predators challenged and won for Granlund’s first goal since being acquired at the trade deadline.
Aho sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 19.3 seconds left.
The Predators played without Filip Forsberg, day to day with a lower-body injury. Granlund replaced Forsberg on the top line with Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen. Nashville also was coming off its first three-day break since the team’s mandated break immediately after the All-Star Game in late January.
Carolina lost 8-1 to Winnipeg on Friday night and travelled. That didn’t stop the Hurricanes from jumping on the Predators early, outshooting them 16-8 and grabbing a 2-0 lead after the first period.
The Predators got into penalty trouble early and often starting with Smith just 30 seconds into the game. Then they wound up giving the Hurricanes a 5-on-3 for 95 seconds with back-to-back tripping penalties on Matt Irwin and captain Roman Josi. Saros, starting for Pekka Rinne, made seven saves during the penalty kill to keep it scoreless.
Niederreiter put Carolina up 1-0 at 14:29 with a wrister from the left circle that went top shelf over Saros’ glove. Nashville took its fourth penalty late in the period for too many men on the ice during a power play, and Niederreiter made it 2-0 with a second left tipping in Teuvo Teravainen’s shot from the slot on the man advantage for his 11th goal in 22 games with the Hurricanes.
Smith got Nashville on the board at 2:52 of the second, beating Mrazek’s blocker with a slap shot from the top of the right circle.
Williams scored Carolina’s second power-play goal 55 seconds into the third. Boyle answered quickly scoring at 2:35 to pull Nashville within 3-2. Then Martinook beat Saros with a wrister at 6:38 to pad the lead for Carolina.
NOTES: The Hurricanes improved to 10-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. … Williams notched his seventh straight 20-goal season. … Nashville dropped to 5-17-4 when trailing after the second period.
Hurricanes: At Colorado on Monday night.
Predators: At Anaheim on Tuesday night.
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Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press