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    December 24, 2018 11:47 PM PST
    NASHVILLE , Tenn. (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. Center Ryan Getzlaf said the Ducks were too tentative early with the puck.”It’s finding that happy medium,” Getzlaf said. ”At times we get too revved up when we come in this building about running everybody over and all the other stuff and forgetting playing hockey.”The puck didn’t drop until after a pre-game ceremony for Poile Brian Gibbons Jersey Womens , who got the record March 1 in Nashville’s 4-2 victory at Edmonton. That win pushed him past Glen Sather (1,319). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was on hand for the festivities Thursday.The Predators didn’t miss a beat after the delay as Smith scored at 5:26 of the first period with a wrister that beat Gibson glove-side. Then Forsberg found Johansen at the edge of the crease with a pass, and Johansen redirected it for his 10th goal at 15:10.The Ducks went on the power play late in the second period, and the Predators quickly turned that into a 3-0 lead. Colton Sissons skated up and took a shot, then Watson scored off the rebound with 1:18 left for his third short-handed goal this season – tied for second in the NHL.”That was a momentum changer,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. ”I thought we started to impose a little more will in the second period and then we had an opportunity to make it a 1-goal game and then we give up a short-handed goal.”Ducks center Ryan Kesler and Johansen fought on the ensuing faceoff. Johansen said Kesler had been asking to fight for two periods. The Predators center fell after apparently stepping on a stick.”Was that what that was?” Johansen said. ”I hope so, because I went down pretty easy. We’ll go 1-0 Kesler.”Anaheim opened the third taking the first few shots. Arvidsson hit a post for Nashville, then the Ducks came back the other way with Rakell scoring on a pass from Corey Perry at 6:04 of the period. Rakell made it 3-2 with his 30th goal of the season.Notes: Nashville improved to 30-2-3 when leading after two periods. … Smith has 21 goals this season, three away from matching his career best. … Ryan Hartman has four points (two goals, two assists) in six games since Nashville picked up him in a trade from Chicago. … Forsberg has five points (two goals Jaroslav Halak Jersey Womens , three assists) in his last five regular-season games against Anaheim. … Rakell has a five-game point streak (seven goals and two assists).UP NEXTDucks: Visit Dallas on Friday night.Predators: Host Devils on Saturday night.—Follow Teresa M. Walker at— Carter Hutton ought to be feeling pressure to perform well when the Buffalo Sabres visit the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday evening at Staples Center.Hutton is set to make his seventh start in goal for the Sabres and he has been subpar in his past three outings.Meanwhile, backup goalie Linus Ullmark made 20 saves in a 5-1 victory at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon. Ullmark had 36 saves in his other start this season, a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 13.Article continues below ...Hutton is 0-3-0 in his past three appearances, allowing 13 goals on 96 shots for an .865 save percentage.Buffalo (4-4-0) hasn’t provided much cushion for Hutton either, scoring one goal in each of his past three starts.The Sabres adjusted their lines and that seemed to make a difference against the Kings.Jeff Skinner and Jason Pominville moved onto the top line with center Jack Eichel and Skinner had his fifth career hat trick in the win.Pominville added a goal and two assists to become the third player from the 2001 NHL Draft class with 700 points. He had just one assist in the first seven games. “I thought the line played pretty well,” Skinner told MSG Network after the game. “I thought (Pominville and Eichel) did a great job working down low. I think a majority of our offense was created off the cycle.”Skinner had one of his hat tricks in Anaheim while a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. He scored three goals in a 5-1 victory on Dec. 11, 2015.Sutton has made four career appearances against Anaheim, owning a 1-2-1 record, 3.00 goals-against average and .888 save percentage.The Ducks (5-2-1) are expected to start goalie Ryan Miller after John Gibson played Saturday night in a 3-1 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights.Miller played for Buffalo from 2002 to 2014 and remains the franchise leader in several career categories, including games played by a goalie (540) Steven Kampfer Jersey Womens , minutes (33,661) and wins (284).Miller made his only other start this season on Sunday at the St. Louis Blues, saving 29 of 31 shots in the 3-2 victory.The Ducks have been known as a physically intimidating team in the past. They’ve had to take a step back as they infuse younger players into the lineup, but Skinner said the Sabres will be ready if Anaheim wants to play that style.Kyle Okposo and Zach Bogosian stood up to the Kings on Saturday.“We have sort of that mentality that we’re all going to stick up for one another, which is a nice feeling,” Skinner said.The first goal has been huge in games involving the Sabres this season. The team that has taken a 1-0 lead has led the rest of the way in all eight games.The Ducks plan to retire the jersey of Paul Kariya before the game.
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