After trading their best penalty-killing defenseman Wednesday, it would seem unlikely the Predators would win a special teams battle in their first game since the deal.

Add in fact the player acquired for Kevin Klein — offensive defenseman Michael Del Zotto — hardly played on the Predators power play in Nashville’s 2-1 win over Vancouver on Thursday.

But it was indeed a special teams score that won the game for Nashville — along with some strong penalty killing work, in an important game.

“Obviously (Klein) did a heck of a job for us killing penalties,” goaltender Carter Hutton said. “We have a lot of able bodies and people who are able to step up and raise their games on the penalty kill and it showed tonight.”

The Predators have now won four of their past five games games — though Nashville remained eight points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final wild card spot in the race to the postseason.

Nick Spaling tipped a Seth Jones blast with 7:22 left in the third period to notch the game winner past Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo on the power play. Meanwhile Vancouver went 0-for-5 on the power play. That included a four-minute advantage in the first period where former Predator Dan Hamhuis had about four chances from the left circle on one-timers, but missed all of them.

“We had some good goaltending. Carter (Hutton) was good on those backdoor plays,” coach Barry Trotz said. “They were executing well. We were having trouble trying to stop that. He got over there a couple of times. It was a good test, it was a good character test.”

Nashville tied the game at 1-1 4:28 into the third period. Forward Craig Smith blasted in a feed from Spaling. It was Smith’s team-leading 16th goal.