The heated playoff series between the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets moves up to Canada for Game 3. Winning tonight means taking a huge advantage.
The race is on in what is now seen as a best-of-five series. The advantage of home ice is no longer in the grasp of the Nashville Predators, as three of the remaining games are in Winnipeg. The series is tied at a game each with epic battles on the horizon.
From a statistical standpoint, the Predators have dominated the action, leading in shots, face-offs, and almost every advanced stat. However, only the scoreboard matters and that shows a 4-1 loss in Game 1, followed by a 5-4 double-overtime win in Game 2. Now, the series shifts north of the border to Winnipeg. The team with the best home record hosts the team with the best road record. Something has to give.
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Team play featured
In Game 2, the hero may have been Kevin Fiala, whose overtime goal posted the gaming winning score. The play of the second line was full display during that score. Kyle Turris battled for the puck at the edge of the neutral zone and Craig Smith gladly took it from there. With a two-on-one break, Smith passed the puck through Dustin Byfuglien to Fiala. The young Swiss player took it from there, besting Connor Hellebyuck at the net.
However, it was the play of the Predators top line that pushed the team to victory. Filip Forsberg may not have tallied a goal, but his ability to play the puck lead to three primary assists. His tip of the puck freed Viktor Arvidsson for a powerful shot. Additionally, the threat of his shot drew defenders. He found an open Ryan Johansen for the games’ first goal.
The same team play will need to be on display if the Nashville Predators want to win tonight. While the first two lines proved potent in Game 2, the third line struggled. The trio of Nick Bonino, Colton Sissons, and Austin Watson finished with sub-40 CorsiFor ratings and allowed opponents to gain scoring positions. Of course, they took 21 of their 25 faceoffs in the defensive zone. Also, they faced the Jets top two lines most of the time. While Patrik Laine has been held at bay, Mark Scheifele seems to free to do as he pleases.
If there are any changes to the lineup tonight, I would be surprised. With the speed and ability of the Jets forwards, Ryan Hartman should remain on the fourth line with Mike Fisher and Calle Jarnkrok. They not only held their opponents’ shots down, they only allowed two high-dangers chances. However, Scott Hartnell could be asked to play tonight to give someone a night of rest and help increase traffic in front of the net. Otherwise, don’t look for changes.
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Colton Sissons – Nick Bonino – Austin Watson
Ryan Hartman – Mike Fisher – Calle Jarnkrok
Where to watch
Tonight’s game comes from the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg and can be viewed on CNBC. The game is expected to start at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. You can follow the action with us @PredlinesNSH on Twitter. After the game, tune to Fox Sports Tennessee for postgame coverage.