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Thrashers topped by Predators
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jason Arnott scored 7 seconds into the third period, and the Nashville Predators snapped a five-game skid by holding off the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 Saturday night.

The Predators had just staggered home off a four-game trip, losers of five straight in regulation despite outshooting their opponents in each game.

Arnott provided the difference scoring his first goal since Jan. 2. He got the puck off the opening faceoff of the third period, skated up and snapped a shot past Johan Hedberg for his 13th this season to put the Predators ahead to stay.

Joel Ward and Martin Erat each had a goal and an assist, and Jerred Smithson added a goal.

Bryan Little had two goals, and Chris Thorburn scored short-handed. Atlanta ended a two-game winning streak after failing to score twice with the man advantage after Arnott's goal.

The turnout was good on a night people were urged to stay at home due to icy roads from a winter storm, but not close to the announced crowd of 16,646.

The Thrashers had a small but loud group to watch the first game between these Southern teams only four hours apart. It's not much of a rivalry with the teams in separate conferences, and this was just the 12th game in this series.

The Predators desperately needed a victory to start a four-game homestand to avoid slipping even further in the Western Conference before a four-game trip going into the Olympic break.

They were coming off a 4-2 loss at Detroit on Friday night where the Predators lost despite outshooting the Red Wings 48-28 — the most shots on the road in franchise history.

Ward got them started quickly, scoring on the Predators' third shot. He backhanded a shot by Erat that Hedberg stopped with his glove but didn't smother to stop play at 3:59 of the first. Smithson made it 2-0 at 9:27 when he stopped a pass with his left skate, spun around and put a wrister past Hedberg from the slot just in front of the crease.

Little got Atlanta on the board with a power-play goal at 13:57 with a slap shot from the slot off a pass from Todd White.

Nashville bogged down again in the second period, wasting 1:24 of a five-on-three. The Predators got lucky the whistle blew to wipe out Evander Kane's goal on a two-on-one breakaway at 6:55 of the second, and then Erat made it 3-1 at 11:12. Erat scored on a slap shot from the high slot off a pass Ward sent to him just after he skated across the blue line.

It didn't last long.

Thorburn ruined a Nashville power play as he backhanded the puck off the rebound of Marty Reasoner's shot at 12:23. Little tied it up at 3-3 with his own backhanded goal off the rebound of Ilya Kovalchuk's shot at 15:02.

NOTES: Nashville improved to 20-3-1 when scoring first and 6-4 in the second game of a back-to-back set. ... The Predators sent forward Andreas Thuresson to AHL Milwaukee earlier Saturday.

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