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Streaking Preds battle Rangers at MSG

Predators captain Shea Weber said his club isn't playing as well as it would like.

The rest of the league may disagree.

Nashville takes aim at a season-high sixth victory in a row this evening in a matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers, who are looking to bounce back from a rare loss.

The Predators matched their longest win streak of the season on Monday afternoon as they rode a dominating first period en route to a 3-1 victory over the Islanders. Nashville scored on its first two shots of the game and was up by three before the game was 12 minutes old.

Sergei Kostitsyn scored a goal in his third straight game and Matt Halischuk and David Legwand added tallies as well. Kostitsyn has six goals and a pair of assists over his last seven games and Pekka Rinne made 36 saves.

Nashville has won 14 of its past 18 game and sits only four points back of first place in the Central Division and Western Conference. Putting together steady games has been key for the Preds.

"We were really inconsistent early on in the year," said Weber. "We'd play three or four good games and play three or four poor games. The level of drop off isn't as much right now. We're not quite as consistent as we want to be or as good as we want to be, but it's getting there."

Nashville will likely have to try for its first six-game win streak since March 17-26 of last year without All-Star blueliner Ryan Suter, who missed the final two periods of Monday's game due to an upper-body issue.

With Suter battling the nagging ailment, the Predators dressed seven defenseman against the Islanders, so they were easily able to overcome the loss of Suter in terms of healthy bodies.

"[Suter] was feeling a little questionable today and tried to play through it. He's a tough guy, but when something is bugging you, it's bugging you," said Weber, a fellow All-Star selection.

Craig Smith, meanwhile, missed his second game in a row due to illness.

The Rangers return home following a 4-1 loss in Montreal on Sunday that snapped a four-game road winning streak. The loss was just New York's third in its past 14 games and it is tied with Chicago and St. Louis for the most points in the NHL with 60.

Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves in New York's sixth straight loss at Montreal. John Mitchell scored the Rangers' only goal and Marian Gaborik earned his 300th career assist on the tally.

"We had no structure defensively," New York head coach John Tortorella said. "That was our biggest problem."

Forward Brandon Dubinsky missed his third straight game because of a shoulder issue, while Ruslan Fedotenko sat out on Sunday with a back injury.

While the Rangers return home after visiting a city where they have struggled, the Predators have had no such issues when visiting Madison Square Garden. They are unbeaten in their past six trips to the historic venue, going 5-0 with a tie.

New York did best the Predators in Nashville a season ago in the lone meeting between the clubs, getting 29 saves from Lundqvist in a 2-1 shootout decision. It marked the sixth game in a row that the road team has won in this series.