NEW YORK (AP) — The Nashville Predators snapped out of their funk with a solid win at Madison Square Garden. The host New York Rangers might ask the visitors how they did it before they head back to Tennessee.
Nick Spaling and Rich Clune scored first-period goals, and seldom-used backup Carter Hutton made 28 saves as the Predators broke a five-game losing streak by beating the skidding Rangers 4-1 on Tuesday night.
New York geared up for a team-record, nine-game homestand, but three games into it the Rangers have only an overtime loss on the positive side of the ledger (0-2-1).
And now they will have to go the next four to six weeks without captain Ryan Callahan, who sprained his left knee in the first period. Callahan is second on the club with seven goals.
"Everyone has to step up a little more," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "He brings a lot to the team, a lot of different characteristics."
The Rangers were already playing without top defenseman Marc Staal, who sustained a concussion two games earlier.
Hutton (5-3-1) made his first start since Nov. 10 and his third appearance in that span as the Predators try to get by while No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne (hip) is out. Marek Mazanec went 0-4-1 in the previous five games.
"I played a couple periods," Hutton said. "We practice pretty hard, we train pretty hard. This was kind of something I was ready to do."
Matt Hendricks made it 3-1 just 2:38 into the third, knocking in a loose puck from in front, with Clune earning an assist. Paul Gaustad scored an empty-net goal with 1:06 left and added two assists.
"I think everyone is going to sleep a little easier tonight," Clune said. "We stopped the bleeding, but we have to move forward, ride the high on the plane, but refocus fast."
Rick Nash cut New York's deficit in half in the second period and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 22 shots. The Rangers have dropped four straight at home (0-3-1).
"The only thing I know right now is it can only go up," Lundqvist said. "It's extremely tough mentally, and you try to be positive. You have to."
Despite a team meeting after their 4-1 loss to Washington on Sunday, several lineup changes — and a call-up from the AHL — the Rangers came out flat and fell into a 2-0 hole in the first period.
New York (15-16-1) added veteran forward Arron Asham to the lineup, but the Rangers still can't find consistency to their game.