Neal scores 2, Predators beat Devils 5-1
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette had plenty of praise for rookie goaltender Juuse Saros.
James Neal scored twice in the first period, Saros stopped 27 shots and the Predators beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1 Tuesday night.
“He was outstanding,” Laviolette said. “He had a huge save in the first period, he saw the puck really well, he was in control of the crease, in control of the net, he had a half a dozen big saves tonight that were sharp.
Saros lost his bid for his first NHL shutout when Sergey Kalinin scored with 4:49 remaining.
“I been close many times to a shutout,” Saros said. “So you kind of don’t get disappointed at it anymore because the winning is most important.”
Ryan Johansen and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist, Filip Forsberg also scored and Viktor Arvidsson had three assists for the Predators.
Cory Schneider finished with 32 saves for the Devils, who have lost seven straight.
Arvidsson found Neal across the ice on a 2-on-1 and Neal beat Scheider glove-side 5:43 into the game. Neal scored again at 7:15 as he fired a shot from the right circle to beat Schneider on the far post.
“Great pass by Arvi on the first one to find me and then Arvi did a good job getting it to (Roman) Josi,” Neal said. “Found me in the same spot, so two great plays.”
Ekholm went top shelf, firing a shot from the blue line at 5:55 of the second period to put Nashville up 3-0.
Forsberg scored on a power play at 8:12 in the third period to push the lead to four with the Devils’ Nick Lappin serving a two-minute penalty for slashing Kevin Fiala.
Johansen scored a short-handed goal on Arvdisson’s third assist with 6:20 left to give Nashville a 5-0 lead.
Asked if he could find any positives from the loss, Devils coach John Hynes simply replied, “no.”
The Devils have about 45 hours to regroup and find a way to end the losing streak.
“Getting back together where we are playing the right way, doing the right things and giving ourselves opportunities to win some,” Hynes said. “Because we’re not giving us a chance.”
NOTES: Jacob Josefson, Luke Gazdic and Devante Smith-Pelly were scratches for New Jersey. Reid Boucher, Petter Granberg and P.K. Subban were scratched by Nashville. ... Missing his second consecutive game, Subban didn’t make the trip and is day-to-day. ... Boucher was returning to New Jersey, which drafted him in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL draft, for the first time since he was picked up off waivers by the Predators on Dec. 3. ... This was the first of consecutive home games for the Devils since Nov. 23-25. ... New Jersey’s Vernon Fiddler left the game after blocking a shot in the third period. Hynes did not provide an update.
Predators: Host Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Devils: Host Philadelphia on Thursday night.