Viktor Viktor Arvidsson had two goals and two assists, and the Nashville Predators beat the Dallas Stars 7-3 on Thursday night to remain one point out of third place in the Central Division.
Craig Smith had two goals and an assist, and Kevin Fiala, Harry Zolnierczyk and Roman Josi also scored for the Predators, who kept pace with St. Louis in the division. Juuse Saros stopped 30 shots for his 10th win, and P.K. Subban and Anthony Bitetto had two assists apiece.
By finishing the season in third place, Nashville would play second-place Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs. As a wild card, the Predators would open the postseason against a division winner – either Chicago or Anaheim.
Jason Spezza, Radek Faksa and Jason Dickinson scored for the Stars. Antti Niemi started and gave up two goals on eight shots over the first 13:02 before being replaced by Kari Lehtonen, who finished with 21 saves.
The Predators’ seven goals tied their season high, and matched their total for the previous five games. They were 1-4 in that stretch.
Arvidsson scored both his goals and assisted on Smith’s first in the opening period to help the Predators take a 4-0 lead. Zolnierczyk made it 5-0 just 1:06 into the second.
After the Stars pulled within two, Josi scored on a slap shot from the top of the right circle into the upper left corner during a 5-on-3 power play to put the Predators back up by three with about 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the middle period.
Arvidsson scored just 1:06 into the game. Craig Smith sent a pass from the left boards to the front of the net, and Arvidsson tipped the puck past Niemi.
Smith made it 2-0 with just under seven minutes left in the first as he got a pass from Arvidsson, skated into the right faceoff circle and sent a wrist shot past Niemi.
Lehtonen allowed goals 36 seconds apart on wrist shots by Fiala and Arvidsson to make it 4-0 with 1:08 left in the first. Arvidsson’s second goal went in off the stick of Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak.
Smith scored his second goal with 6:08 left in the third.
▪ Nashville won the season series 3-2. Before Spezza scored, the Predators had 10 consecutive goals in the last two games vs. Dallas, including a 5-3 home win on Feb. 12.
▪ Stars rookie C Justin Dowling left in the second period with an upper-body injury, and did not return. Oleksiak left later in the period after being hit by the puck. A cut was stitched, and he returned.
▪ Dickinson’s two goals this season have come in the past two games. Faksa had five points (one goal, four assists) in the five games vs. Nashville. Spezza is on a four-game point streak with five points (three goals, two assists).
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▪ Arvidsson tied Ryan Johansen for the team lead with 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists).
Stars host Colorado on Saturday in the final game for both teams.
First Period—1, Nashville, Arvidsson 30 (C.Smith, Jarnkrok), 1:06. 2, Nashville, C.Smith 11 (Arvidsson), 13:02. 3, Nashville, Fiala 11 (Parenteau, Subban), 18:16. 4, Nashville, Arvidsson 31 (Bitetto), 18:52.
Second Period—5, Nashville, Zolnierczyk 2 (Subban, Watson), 1:06. 6, Dallas, Spezza 15 (Benn), 2:47. 7, Dallas, Faksa 12 (Hamhuis, G.Smith), 10:30. 8, Dallas, Dickinson 2 (Elie, Faksa), 12:51. 9, Nashville, Josi 12 (Neal, Arvidsson), 17:27 (pp).
Third Period—10, Nashville, C.Smith 12 (Bitetto, Hunt), 13:52.
Shots on Goal—Nashville 12-16-6—34. Dallas 11-13-9—33. Power-play opportunities—Nashville 1 of 4; Dallas 0 of 1. Goalies—Nashville, Saros 10-8-3 (33 shots-30 saves). Dallas, Lehtonen 21-24-7 (26-21), Niemi 12-13-4 (8-6). A—17,543 (18,532). T—2:28.