The Nashville Predators had to win Game 2 to have a realistic chance to win their Second Round series with the Winnipeg Jets. It took longer than expected, but they got it done.
I risk being mocked for saying such a thing, but if the Nashville Predators didn’t win Sunday night’s game in Bridgestone Arena against the Winnipeg Jets, their season was in serious jeopardy of being over. Losing once at home to the Jets is bad enough. Losing twice to a team with a home-ice advantage like Winnipeg has is downright fatal. Even if the Predators are one of the best road teams in hockey & have won in Winnipeg this season, they don’t want to take too many chances. Game 2 was a must-win.
Our National Anthem was sung by Carrie Underwood, for those scoring at home or even if you’re alone. The Tennessee Titans offensive line is in the house. All good luck charms are present & accounted for.
It doesn’t take long! Ryan Johansen scores twenty-seven seconds into the game! The Jets iced it early, gave the JoFA line a chance down low, and the Predators took advantage. Filip Forsberg & P.K. Subban got assists.
Subban draws the cheers of the crowd with a big elbow! Colton Sissons was just off-sides for a breakaway. The Predators go on the power play at 7:08 when Matt Hendricks interferes with Pekka Rinne. Only one shot on goal happens during the power play, as the Jets PK continues to dominate. Winnipeg goes on the PP soon after, as Paul Stastny gets tripped by Ryan Hartman at 10:00. Blake Wheeler decides to make it even at 10:52 by tripping Sissons. The 4 on 4 is uneventful. The power play is similarly uneventful before Viktor Arvidsson interferes with Tyler Myers at 12:33. Dustin Byfuglen ties the game up at 12:47 with some help from Mark Scheifele.
It doesn’t take long for Scheiefle to get the second goal for Winnipeg on the power play at 13:16. Paul Statsny & Patrik Laine get assists. Talk about a momentum change. Another Jets shot goes off the post. The Predators defense & goaltending isn’t very effective at the moment. The difference between Nashville & Winnipeg shots is simple: Winnipeg players are in front of their net. Nashville is getting some shots off the point, but it’s ineffective.
The Winnipeg Jets have been the better team for the first eighty minutes of this series. Some might want to argue it, but from what I’ve seen they are wrong.
The Predators continue to get outplayed early in this period. Too many bad passes. Nashville gets bailed out with a penalty by Bryan Little for tripping at 4:01. They need to take advantage here. AND THEY DO. Subban slaps it in at 5:04. Forsberg & Arvidsson get assists.
The Jets fire back strong afterwards & Rinne has to hold them off. It’s a power play for Winnipeg when Mattias Ekholm slashes at 7:46. Some great penalty killing here by Nashville. Austin Watson shoots a dream pass from Roman Josi too high. Winnipeg gets a goal waved off & the Predators go on the power play at 13:46 thanks to Hendricks interfering with Matt Irwin. Not much gets accomplished on the PP, but they do cancel out that possible Jets goal. Gotta take the victories when you can get them.
Was that an Arvidsson goal at 18:41? Yes it was! Forsberg forced a turnover & Arvidsson took advantage. Ryan Ellis also got an assist out of it.
Yikes, Subban hobbles off just before the end of the period. Hopefully, he’ll be all right. (Spoiler Alert: he was) Also, there was a penalty called just before the end of the period, along with a scrum afterwards. A couple of penalties will end up with Winnipeg having a man advantage when we return.
The Jets tie the game thanks to Brandon Tanev at 5:11. The Predators re-take the lead thirty-four seconds later! Ryan Johansen gets his second of the night & is producing shots into the net at the best time. Arvidsson gets the assist.
The Jets are really pushing afterward. Some barn-burning hockey here. Arvidsson had a really nice move for GIF of the series until Hellebuyck made the save. Laine with 12 shot attempts tonight, you know he’s trying to get it done. Hellebuyck leaves the net, and Scheifele gets it in at 18:55 to tie the game! We all knew this series would go to OT at some point, and unfortunately it’s now.
I had the feeling that this wouldn’t be a long overtime. I wasn’t sure which team would strike right away, but it would be one of them. The Predators have the best chance early, but Mike Fisher gets blocked on the open net. They get another chance soon after, but Hellebuyck stops the point shot. The Nashville Predators have had a couple of golden opportunities that they haven’t capitalized on. Fortunately, the Jets had a couple too. One overtime period passed with no score, no whistles, no nothing.
We head to the second overtime. Five minutes pass without incident, before a breakaway by the Turris line leads to a Kevin Fiala goal! The Nashville Predators salvage a 1-1 split at home & hopefully this will be a sign of things to come for the second line!
Steve’s Three Stars
Third Star: Kevin Fiala
When you score the game-winner in OT you’re appearing in this section of the recap. Fiala has a tendency to come up large in big situations, and tonight was no different. I don’t think this is the last time we’ll be seeing heroics from this gentleman.
Second Star: Mark Scheifele
This guy carried the Jets on his back tonight. He got two goals & one assist, including the game-tying goal that sent this game into overtime. The NBCSN commentators were very complementary of his game & his future prospects, and it’s easy to see why. Nashville will have to keep several eyes on him going forward.
First Star: Ryan Johansen
The Nashville Predators needed a big game from their first line tonight. Johansen knew that, and he was firing shots like no tomorrow. He matched his two goals in the first round series tonight & provded the type of effort that any team would want from their first-line center. He nearly turned that effort into a game-winner, but it won’t be his last chance to get one.
The Nashville Predators will head to Winnipeg to continue their series with the Jets on Tuesday night. NBCSN & 102.5 The Game will have game coverage when puck drops at 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT.