The game was one that could only go badly for the Predators. The expectation against the lowly Isles was for a win, but a loss would have been disastrous as they try to keep pace in the tightly bunched Western Conference.
As the game ended, the Predators sat with 56 points and pulled within four points of the conference leading Chicago Blackhawks, who the Preds will play on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators hit the ice determined not to fall in a "trap" game situation. Barry Trotz had emphasized that he wanted a quick start and that's what he got.
The Predators received goals from Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt Halischuk, and David Legwand in the first 11:37 of play. In spite of improved play out of the Islanders in the second and third period, the Preds appeared headed for a shut out until John Tavares slipped one into the net with 3:58 left in the game.
Pekka Rinne picked up his 24th win of the season stopping 36 of 37 Islander shots. Rookie Kevin Poulin gave up three goals on 32 Nashville shots.
The Predators packed up and headed to downtown Manhattan where they will meet the New York Rangers at Madison Square Gardens at 6:30 p.m. CST in a nationally televised game on the NBC Sports Network.
Make the jump for more details from the game as well as a few comments from the couch...
Rinne (23-11-4, 2.54, .920) started in net for the Predators while Poulin (0-1-0, 3.07, .897) was between the pipes for the Isles.
Craig Smith and Brian McGrattan were the scratches for the Predators. There was some concern prior to the game as to whether Ryan Suter would play due to an "upper body injury."
Jack Hillen was started as a seventh defensemen, which is rare for the Preds, but it did allow him to play against the team that did not re-sign him after last season.
The Preds got on the board quickly at 2:17 when Kostitsyn wristed a shot past past the rookie Poulin to give the Preds a quick 1-0 lead. Ryan Ellis got his second assist and fifth point in nine games.
Halischuk gave the Preds a 2-0 lead on an unassisted shot after a takeaway at 5:34 to put him at 10 goals on the season.
Matt Martin put the Preds on the man advantage at 8:01 when he boarded Hillen. The Preds got off one shot but did not score on their initial power play.
Legwand was credited with a tip in on a tic-tac-toe play at 11:37 to give the Predators a 3-0 lead and pretty much eliminate any thoughts of a "trap" game for the Preds. Marty Erat and Colin Wilson were credited with the assists.
As the period was winding down, Colin Wilson was called for elbowing John Tavares. The Isles got a shot on the power play but no goals.
The Islanders came out with new inspiration in the second period and were using their speed to fire shots from all parts of the ice. Pekka Rinne was busy, stopping 19 shots.
Gabriel Bourque was called for hooking Matt Moulson at 8:33 and Mike Fisher was called for high sticking Tavares 50 seconds later to give the Isles 1:10 of five on three advantage. The Isles got three shots on the five on four and one shot during the five on three but the Preds defense held firm.
With 10 seconds left, Shea Weber and Rinne combined to stop a shot from Kyle Okposo which could be considered a "combination save of the game."
Suter did not come back out for the second period due to the "upper body Injury" after playing 10 shifts and logging 7:04 in the first period. Weber was paired with Frankie Bouillon, Roman Josi, and Hillen at times during the middle stanza.
The Predators came out in the third period and played with determination to try to preserve the shut out for Rinne. The Preds did a good job of slowing down the Isles attack for most of the period.
One of the better aspects of the final period was the Predators controlling the face off circle, winning 13 of 19 draws.
The low point of the game came at 16:02 when Tavares put the puck into the net to break up Rinne's shut out bid and bring a little life to the Isles fans that remained in the building.
Jack Hillen picked up extra minutes against his old team with Suter out and finished the game with three hits, a shot, and 13:56 of play.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass