BOSTON (AP) — Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in his return from a one-game absence and the Boston Bruins beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Tuesday night, boosting their playoff chances.
Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Noel Acciari and David Backes scored for the Bruins, who moved three points ahead of idle Tampa Bay for the second Eastern Conference wild card with six games remaining. Boston began the night a point behind Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Rask was sidelined with a lower-body injury for Boston’s 2-1 road win against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Bergeron’s goal was his 18th of the season, and Krejci got his 22nd. Acciari scored his first career goal in 43 NHL games, Backes netted his 17th of the season and Zdeno Chara earned his 600th NHL point with an assist on Boston’s first goal.
Craig Smith scored his 10th goal for the Predators, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves but took his first loss in six starts.
Nashville remained one point ahead of idle St. Louis for third in the Central Division.
The Predators had won three straight meetings with the Bruins, including a 2-1 victory Jan. 12 in Nashville.
Bergeron opened the scoring 2:28 into the first period, slamming home a rebound after Chara’s shot from the blue line bounced off Rinne’s leg.
Krejci’s wrister trickled through Rinne’s legs to double the Bruins’ lead at 13:52 of the first.
Smith redirected Roman Josi’s shot past Rask to cut the Nashville’s deficit in half with 8:44 remaining in the third.
Acciari tapped in a shot-pass from Riley Nash as the Bruins converted on a 3-on-1 chance with 4:13 to play. Backes scored an empty-netter with 1:31 left to seal it.
NOTES: Nashville C Mike Fisher (lower body) missed his fourth straight game. Predators general manager David Poile told 102.5 The Game radio Tuesday he is hopeful Fisher can return “as soon as Thursday.” … Predators D Yannick Weber (upper body) sat out for the second consecutive night. … Boston C Tim Schaller (lower body) missed his ninth game in a row. … Chara was named the Bruins’ nominee for the Masterson Trophy, which honors dedication to hockey. “It’s a game that gives you so much delight and makes you a better person,” the 40-year-old defenseman said. … Boston recalled G Zane McIntyre from Providence of the AHL on an emergency basis two hours before the game, but was returned during the first-period intermission.
Predators: Open a two-game homestand Thursday against Toronto.
Bruins: Continue a three-game homestand Thursday against Dallas.