NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jordin Tootoo and Sergei Kostitsyn each had two goals and an assist, and the Nashville Predators moved closer to clinching a playoff berth by beating the Atlanta Thrashers 6-3 Tuesday night.
The Predators jumped to fourth in the West with 97 points, and they need only one more point in their final two games or a Dallas loss to clinch their sixth playoff berth in the past seven seasons.
Matt Halischuk had a goal and an assist, Mike Fisher added a power-play goal and Patric Hornqvist had three assists. Nashville jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period, and the Predators finished off their 23rd win on home ice this season, making them the only NHL team to win that many each of the past six seasons.
Blake Wheeler scored twice in the third, and Nik Antropov also added a goal to pull the Thrashers within 6-3 at 17:10.
The Thrashers came in 2-3-0 in their past five games, eliminated from playoff contention after their 3-2 loss to Boston on Saturday. They tried to make a game of it early as they took as many shots as Nashville, but the Predators had much better luck getting past goalie Chris Mason.
Halischuk backhanded the puck into the net from the slot at 5:24 for his third goal this season off an assist from Tootoo. Then Tootoo took advantage of Antropov's failure to clear the puck from the crease after Mason had stopped Martin Erat's shot, skating up and flipping the puck over the line at 19:19.
Kostitsyn made it a 3-0 lead with 0.8 of a second left on the clock when he wristed the puck into the open side of the net.
The Predators chased Mason to the bench when Tootoo scored his second of the game for a career-best three points in a game at 1:56 of the second with more help from Atlanta. Halischuk passed the puck toward the slot, a Thrashers player apparently tipped it with his stick off Tootoo's left skate and past Mason for the 4-0 lead.
Mason left having given up four goals on 13 shots, replaced by Ondrej Pavelec.
Nashville's lead could have been bigger. The Predators had two power plays late in the second, including 26 seconds with the 5-on-3 advantage, but couldn't get the puck past Pavelec.
Kostitsyn tapped the puck into the open net on a pass from Franson for his second of the game and 22nd goal this season at 2:28 of the third. Wheeler scored on a wrister at 3:06 to keep goalie Pekka Rinne from posting a shutout before Fisher padded the lead for Nashville again. His wrister on the power play came off a nice pass from Kostitsyn at 6:18 to make it 6-1.
NOTES: Only Detroit (158) and San Jose (155) have more home wins than Nashville (154). ... Forward J.P. Dumont was a healthy scratch for Nashville. ... The Predators improved to 40-4-2 when scoring three or more goals and 29-5-8 when scoring first. ... Kostitsyn extended his career-best points streak to 10 straight games. He has 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) since March 17 for Nashville's longest such stretch this season. ... Atlanta scratched defenseman Tobias Enstrom (upper body) and forward Radek Dvorak (upper body), who did not travel with the team. ... The Thrashers had been perfect, killing 15 straight penalties over the previous six games.