The main event set the Nashville Predators against the Winnipeg Jets. But the undercard battles were just as exciting and firming established the rivalry.
The event has been circled, highlighted, written down, and put on Google Calendars ever since it was announced. The Winnipeg Jets – the team who crushed the hearts of Nashville Predators fans everywhere – made their return to Bridgestone Arena. They took up residence here in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, taking three of the four games here.
It is a new season, but pundits across NHL media picked the Jets as their favorite to win the Central Division. There were a few to select the Predators to win the division and even make it to the Stanley Cup. Either way, the season series will be filled with hard-fought games.
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While the Predators pulled off the 3-0 shutout last night, it was the undercard that highlighted the evening’s events. There was physically play throughout the game, reaching its pinnacle in the second period. The Jets were called for penalty after penalty, though the Predators failed to take advantage of the chances. As the penalties came, so did the frustration of the Jets.
At 15:41 in the second period, mass hysteria ensued. Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba crosschecks Miikka Salomaki in front of the net., drawing a delayed penalty. Salomaki then checked Nikolaj Ehlers into the boards. And the fun began.
From the scrum shown in the tweet above, two fights broke out. Colton Sissons took on Ehlers while Mattias Ekholm tangled with Blake Wheeler. It was the first recorded fight in Ekholm’s career and the third NHL fight for Sissons. As someone who paid (as part of a group) to watch Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the Jets-Predators fights were far more entertaining.
According to HockeyFights.com, Sissons won his fight earning 60% of the vote, while 26% consider it a draw. Landing a solid fist to Ehlers’ jaw was the key moment. As for Ekholm, the match was much closer. Still, the Predators’ defensemen is considered the winner by a 58-42 margin.
All players were giving penalties for the fights, but it certainly showed that neither team will back down from a battle. The Jets may be the bigger team, but the Nashville Predators held their composure and won the game.
This is going to be a great series. Mark your calendar for January 17, 2019. There will be a rematch at Bridgestone!