What's the best way to put yourself into a position of comfort in a tight playoff race?
If "a five-game winning streak" was your answer, you might be a fan of the Nashville Predators. The team added their latest win to the bunch on Thursday night, and this one was a big one against a close foe in the West, the Anaheim Ducks.
Nashville held off a late Anaheim surge in the third period, propelled by (who else?) Teemu Selanne, to earn the two points in a 5-4 win.
Anaheim loses a big chance at moving up in the West with the loss, and now they sit uncomfortably in eighth-place, with one extra game played than ninth-place Dallas and only a one point lead. Nashville, meanwhile, isn't safe just yet having played a few extra games than everybody else and only a four-point gap on ninth-place Dallas. If they keep winning, though, there won't be any issues.
Elsewhere in the NHL...
Penguins 2, Flyers 1 (SO): The latest edition of the Battle of Pennsylvania was a tight-checking, defensive battle between two teams still battling atop both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. Tyler Kennedy tied the score for Pittsburgh in the second period and won in the shootout to get by a stellar Sergei Bobrovsky, who rebounded from tough questions about his playoff future with a fine performance.
Pittsburgh was fantastic defensively, stifling the Flyers at every turn. It took 13 minutes before Philadelphia registered a shot on goal in the third period. The win draws the Pens closer to the Flyers in both races, although they're still four points back with an extra game played and only eight remaining in the regular season.
Coyotes 3, Jackets 0: Ilya Bryzgalov made 28 saves as Phoenix nailed down their 17th and 18th points in their last 10 games. That's a pretty good way to assert yourself as a serious contender in the West, no?
Blues 4, Oilers 0: ... sorry, Blues and Oilers fans. I've got nothing.
Senators 2, Rangers 1 (SO): A lackluster performance from NYR allowed Ottawa to stay in the game and, ultimately, steal two points in the shootout. Both Henrik Lundqvist and Craig Anderson made 29 saves in the game.
Leafs 4, Avalanche 3: A loss would've been a death blow, but Toronto avoided that with a gutsy 4-3 win over Colorado. It was their third straight win, and it was propelled by Nikolai Kulemin's two goal night. Also, the role of James Reimer can't be underplayed. He made 25 saves on Thursday night.
Thrashers 2, Islanders 1: Andrew Ladd has 27 goals this season. Did you know that?