West leaders meet as Ducks host Predators

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks battle once again for Western Conference supremacy on Sunday night in a key clash at Honda Center.

The Predators and Ducks are two of the four teams tied for the NHL lead in points with 93. The other two are Eastern Conference residents Montreal and the New York Rangers.

Anaheim and Nashville were tied atop the NHL standings when they last met on Feb. 5, with the Ducks snapping that deadlock with a 5-2 road victory. It marked their second in as many meetings this season with the Preds and seventh the last eight encounters overall.

Anaheim goes for the sweep of the three-game season series having won three of the last four matchups at home.

Jakob Silfverberg scored twice in that win over the Preds and Frederik Andersen made 44 saves. James Neal and Colin Wilson scored for Nashville, with Pekka Rinne posting 21 saves.

The Ducks snapped a three-game slide on Friday with a big 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. John Gibson posted 32 saves and Silfverberg had the deciding tally late in the second period.

Francois Beauchemin recorded the other goal and Ryan Kesler assisted on both tallies for the Ducks, who have an 11-point lead over Vancouver for first place in the Pacific Division.

"Position-wide I don't think you saw too many odd-man rushes," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "When we're not allowing anything like that I think we're playing intelligently and solid."

Things are much tighter for the Predators, though they did move two points up on the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Central standings with last night's 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

The Preds, though, have played in two more games than the Blues, who visit the Dallas Stars on Sunday.

Craig Smith had a game-tying goal in the third period versus the Kings and Viktor Stalberg was credited with the game-winner just 1:06 later as his pass attempt was redirected into the net by a Kings defenseman.

Pekka Rinne stopped 19 shots for the Predators, who had lost seven of their last eight coming in. Rinne earned his 200th NHL win.

"We did a good job of getting in front of the goalie tonight. It makes it tough on him," said Smith, who netted his team high-tying 22nd goal of the campaign.

Smith is tied for the club lead in goals with Neal, who did not play on Saturday due to a lower-body injury. He is day-to-day.