Behind the New York net, Grimaldi sent a hard pass to Smith in the slot, where he beat Greiss with a wrist shot.
“We didn’t have a very good start,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “We gave them a lot of opportunities and they buried three of them in the first period. We had our chances, but it just wasn’t a good enough effort to get us going in the game tonight.”
Ekholm chased Greiss when he converted a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle 13:33 into the first.
In the first meeting of the season between the teams Dec. 17 on Long Island, Greiss allowed five goals on 15 shots.
“Our effort and our focus on execution and turnovers were not good tonight,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “I didn’t like our mindset tonight. There’s no way we’re going to win any games with that mindset.”
Grimaldi beat Varlamov 4:41 into the second and Smith scored again at 11:38. Smith got his 16th of the season off a pass from Predators captain Roman Josi.
NOTES: Country music singer Luke Bryan performed the national anthem. … IBF Super Middleweight champion Caleb Plant attended the game. … Nashville C Calle Jarnkrok recorded his 100th career NHL assist… The Islanders are 6-4-0 against Central Division teams this season.
Islanders: Visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.