Austin Watson recorded a hat trick and the Nashville Predators netted two power-play goals in a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.
Watson entered the game with just one goal and broke loose with scores in each period as Nashville won its sixth straight home game.
Nick Bonino and Craig Smith also scored for the Predators, who entered Sunday’s game tied for the best record in the NHL. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne made 17 saves for the win, improving his career record to 17-6-1 against Anaheim.
Adam Henrique and Ondrej Kase scored for the Ducks.
The Ducks narrowed the gap to 3-2 late in the second period before the Predators stretched their advantage to two goals early in the third on Smith’s third goal.
John Gibson stopped 28 shots for the Ducks, who had their two-game winning streak halted.
Watson gave the Predators a 1-0 lead when he poked a rebound from the left side of the net over Gibson’s outstretched stick into the net at 11:04 of the first period.
Anaheim tied it at 1 on a power-play goal by Henrique, whose wrist shot from the low slot beat a screened Rinne stickside at 2:38 of the second period when Matt Irwin was off for tripping.
Nashville regained a 2-1 advantage on a Bonino breakaway. He fired a wobbly wrist shot from the left faceoff circle into the top right corner of the net over Gibson’s glove at 5:38 of the second period.
Watson deflected Roman Josi’s one-timer into the net from the left side of the crease on the power play, increasing the Predators lead to 3-1 with 1:24 left in the second period. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle challenged the goal for goaltender interference, but it stood after video review.
Anaheim retaliated 79 seconds later when Kase beat Rinne stickside from the low slot, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
Nashville’s second power-play goal, this one from a sprawling Smith in the low slot, boosted the Predators’ lead to 4-2 at 2:52 of the third period.
Watson completed his hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:06 left, prompting the sellout crowd of 17,167 to shower the ice with caps.
Nashville missed a good scoring opportunity during a 4-on-3 power play when Anaheim’s Josh Manson broke his stick trying the clear the puck, but the Predators couldn’t capitalize during a 40-second span late in the second period.