NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mark Jankowski had an assist in the first period and the young Nashville Predators beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 on Thursday night to keep their improbable playoff hopes alive with four games left.

Michael McCarron also scored as the Predators won their second straight and third in four games after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Dante Fabbro added an empty-net goal with 2:44 remaining, and Spencer Stastney had two assists for his first NHL points.

Goalie Juuse Saros made 32 saves for the win with his second shutout this season and 20th of his career. Saros got some help.

A review in the final minute of the second overturned a goal by Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei for Martin Necas interfering with Saros in the crease. At 3:59 of the third, defenseman Brent Burns’s goal from outside the blue line that went in behind an outstretched Saros was erased by an offsides call.

The Predators seemed well out of the playoff chase with a flurry of injuries and trades at the deadline after announcing the franchise’s only general manager David Poile, also the NHL’s longest and winningest GM, will retire June 30.

But Nashville beat the NHL’s best in Boston on March 28. They edged the Western Conference leader in overtime Tuesday night and came into Thursday night three points back of Winnipeg, currently holding the second wild-card spot in the West, and Calgary a slot above the Predators.

The Predators also came into Thursday night with a game in hand on the Jets and two on Calgary.

Carolina already has its playoff berth clinched with the Hurricanes trying to hold off New Jersey for first in the Metropolitan Division. They snapped a three-game winning streak with their lead down to a point over the Devils with a game in hand.

The Predators came in tied for fifth in the NHL scoring the first goal in 43 games this season. They improved to 8-0-1 over their current stretch with Luke Evangelista in the box for putting the puck over the glass, Jankowski beat goalie Frederik Andersen with a wrister for the shorthanded goal at 7:47.

Jankowski had the assist when McCarron scored from the right boards with a deflection past Andersen at 10:47 for a 2-0 lead.


The goalie improved to 2-0 against Carolina this season after setting career-highs Jan. 5 facing 67 shots and making 64 saves in Nashville’s 5-3 road win.

He stopped Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s shot from the slot just past the midpoint of the second and had a nice save against Sebastian Aho from outside the crease late in the period. Saros also stopped a tip-in attempt by Jesse Puljujarvi midway through the third.


Defenseman Jake Livingstone became the sixth to make his NHL debut this season with Nashville. He played with veteran Tyson Barrie. Livingstone, who turns 24 later this month, signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Predators last week after a three-year career at Minnesota State.

Stastney, playing in his fourth game since being called up from the AHL last weekend, had his first career assist on McCarron’s goal. He got his second on Fabbro’s goal.


The Hurricanes continue their final road trip of the regular season Saturday afternoon at Buffalo.

The Predators hit the road for the final time to decide their playoff future, visiting Winnipeg on Saturday night and then Calgary on Monday night.