Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, comes away from the net to grab the puck as Vancouver Canucks left wing Tanner Pearson (70) closes in during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Predators rally with 2 late goals, beat Canucks 3-2

Nashville keeps division title hopes alive

NASHVILLE — Ryan Johansen scored with 19.5 seconds remaining, and the Nashville Predators rallied to beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 Thursday night and preserve their hopes for a second straight Central Division title.

Winnipeg needed Nashville to lose with the Jets winning in Colorado to clinch the division Thursday night, and the Predators trailed 2-1 before scoring twice in the final 4:20.

Now, the division race will be decided Saturday on the final night of the season.

Nick Bonino tied it up with 4:20 left when Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom got caught to the left of his net with Austin Watson sliding across in front of him, leaving an open net for Bonino to score his 16th of the season. The Canucks lost their challenge for goaltender interference.

Johansen’s pass across the slot to Viktor Arvidsson instead went off the outstretched stick of Canucks defenceman Troy Stecher and past Markstrom’s left pad and in. The Canucks also challenged, this time for offsides and lost.

Colton Sissons also scored for Nashville, which now has won four of five. Watson had two assists in his first game back in Nashville after returning from a suspension under the NHL’s substance abuse and behavioural health program.

Markus Granlund scored and Tanner Pearson each had power-play goals for Vancouver, which snapped a three-game winning streak. Quinn Hughes had two assists.

With so much on the line, the Predators trailed 2-0 after the first period with the Canucks outshooting them.

Nashville had killed 28 straight penalties over its last 10 games. But the Predators had a second left on a hooking penalty on Wayne Simmonds when Granlund scored his 12th at 8:49 of the first, lifting the puck over Pekka Rinne’s glove for a 1-0 lead.

Just 10.6 seconds remained in the period when Pearson scored with the puck going off the post and then off Rinne’s back and in for another power-play goal.

READ MORE: Pearson scores 2 as Canucks double Sharks 4-2

The Predators pulled to 2-1 when Sissons scored on a wrister just 37 seconds into the second. Officials blew the whistle and waved off the goal on the ice, then a review showed Markstrom didn’t stop the puck before sliding into the net. Nashville took the first seven shots and outshot the Canucks 12-8 but couldn’t tie it up.

Nashville kept shooting away in the third, and Markstrom made a stop on Arvidsson’s breakaway attempt with about 6 minutes left.

NOTES: Nashville improved to 11-25-5 when allowing the first goal and 8-19-2 when trailing after one period. … Sissons extended his career-high with his 14th goal and also 29 points. … Granlund skated in his 300th career NHL game. … Pearson now has seven points (six goals, one assist) over eight games.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Conclude season Saturday in St. Louis.

Predators: Host Chicago in regular season finale Saturday night.

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