Craig Smith paces Predators with 2 goals in win over Jets
Nashville forward has 5 goals, 10 points in last 5 games
Craig Smith couldn't care less if the Nashville Predators win with a slick performance or a grinding victory.
Nashville's 4-2 road win over the hometown Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday fell into the latter category, with some luck tossed in.
"Whether it's ugly or not, I don't think anybody is worried about that," said Smith, who scored twice.
"You just try to get better as the game goes on, have speed and go through the ups and downs."
Colton Sissons and Ryan Johansen also scored for the Predators (34-21-12). Sissons added an assist and Colin Wilson had a pair of helpers.
Pekka Rinne turned aside 21 shots in net. Nashville is 9-0-4 in its last 13 games.
Forward Drew Stafford and defenceman Jacob Trouba had goals for Winnipeg (27-34-5).
Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves and had more than a few occasions of bodily contact with his opponents.
"I don't think I saw something different than other games tonight," said Pavelec.
"Every team tries to score. They've got some big presence in front of the net, that's for sure. I had to battle through the traffic to see the puck, but that's what the good teams do."
The loss ended Winnipeg's five-game homestand with only one victory (1-3-1). The team heads to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Thursday.
Stafford opened the scoring at 7:28 of the first, but Smith and Sissons answered back 11 seconds apart, starting at 19:19 with Smith's 17th of the season.
The one-two punch was one of the differences in the game for Jets coach Paul Maurice.
"A toe drag in the offensive zone with a four-on-two [is] ill-advised," he said of the first goal. "Pretty simple coverage we missed on the next one and off the back of our skate into the net."
Sissons, who was called up from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Monday after an injury to Paul Gaustad, hadn't played since Dec. 26 and scored at 19:30. It was his second goal in his 20th game of the season.
Defenceman Shea Weber picked up his 25th assist of the year on Sissons' goal. That extended the captain's point streak to four games, with two goals and four helpers since he missed three games with a lower-body injury.
With 6:07 left in a scoreless second, Predators forward Austin Watson was tossed from the game for a head shot on Marko Dano along the boards. Dano laid on the ice for a few minutes, went to the dressing for a bit, but returned.
Winnipeg got a five-minute power play, but after a few wide shots and others blocked by Nashville's stingy defence, the Jets didn't get a shot on goal. The Preds had a 16-15 edge on shots heading into the third.
Johansen almost didn't score his 11th of the season, which snapped his 14-game goal drought. He whiffed on his first shot attempt alone at the side of Winnipeg's net, but a quick second try connected and the puck went past Pavelec at 8:54 for the 3-1 lead.
Trouba made it 3-2 at 13:37, but Smith's second of the game at 15:21 sealed another victory.
Nashville continues its five-game road trip on Wednesday with the third game in Calgary.