Nashville Predators 26-15-4
New York Rangers 28-11-4
Halischuk scored the game-winning goal on Monday afternoon
The Nashville Predators defeated the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon by a 3-1 score but have little time to enjoy the fact that it was their fifth win in a row as the team faces off against the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Sergei Kostitsyn scored just 2:17 into the first period. Matt Halischuk and David Legwand added other tallies before the 12 minute mark of the game. The Predators would need no more offense. John Tavares broke a potential shutout with only 3:58 left in the third period scored to make it 3-1 Predators.
Kostitsyn and Halischuk’s goals came on the Predators first two shots of the game against Islanders rookie netminder Kevin Poulin.
It was the third consecutive game that Kostitsyn registered a goal in, giving him 6 goals and 2 assists in his last seven contests. Since the start of the 2012 calendar year, Kostitsyn has 6 goals on 8 shots.
Ryan Suter left the game with an upper body injury. It is unclear whether Suter will be available for Tuesday’s game against the Rangers.
With the win, the Predators are now 6-2-2 against the Eastern Conference this season and move to 21-7-4 when games are decided by two goals or fewer.
The Predators are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games and the Rangers are 7-3-0 in their last 10 contests. However, the Rangers have only one win in their last three games and were shut out last Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.
Surprisingly, it was Pekka Rinne who got the start in goal on Monday afternoon. It was Rinne’s 24th win of the season. With back-to-back contests, it seemed likely that backup netminder Anders Lindback would see action in one of the two games, with the Islanders being the logical choice.
Winning eight of their last nine games, Rinne has posted a 1.85 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.
Monday afternoon’s win puts Nashville just four points behind conference leading Chicago Blackhawks, who the Predators play Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators will look to close the gap a little more on Tuesday night when they play the Rangers.
Tuesday night’s game will be just the sixth game between the two clubs in the last six seasons. It is also the 15th game ever played between the Predator and Rangers. Nashville is 7-6-(1)-1 all-time against the Rangers and have found more success on the road than at home against the Blue Shirts posting a 5-2-(1)-0 mark at Madison Square Garden.
The game is being televised nationally on NBC Sports Network, formally Versus at 6:30 CT.