Saturday night's game was one of those that you only see once in a blue moon. The Nashville Predators (10-3-3) blitzed the Winnipeg Jets (8-8-2) for seven goals and sent them to their fifth-straight loss.
The floodgates finally open
In three of its last five games prior to Saturday night against Winnipeg, Nashville had been held to less than three goals and had plenty of questions as to why its top forwards weren't finding the levels of contributions that they would normally see.
I'm not entirely sure what got into the Predators, but all of those offensive frustrations evaporated. Nashville notched five goals before the halfway point of the game, finishing the night with seven goals total.
Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro both recorded their first goals since mid-October, Seth Jones earned his first goal of the season, James Neal collected his eighth and the Predators also had two contributions from Calle Jarnkrok and the final seventh goal from Mattias Ekholm.
Seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that had allowed the 10th most goals in the league entering Saturday night, hold Nashville to a single goal while the St. Louis Blues shut them out both in the span of six nights, the Predators couldn't seem to find an answer as to what needed to be done to generate more offense.
Sometimes it just takes time. Sometimes the right adjustment is all that's needed. Sometimes it's just puck luck.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette swapped Filip Forsberg and Colin Wilson going into their game against the Jets, which seemed to produce a bit of an effect in terms of producing more offensive chances.
When you go back and watch each of Nashville's goals from Saturday night, each appeared to be a mix of players being in the right place at the right time and the puck finding the perfect lane as it screamed to the net.
That's the nature of hockey, though. Sometimes those pucks bounce your way, sometimes they don't. Lately, Nashville's top lines haven't seen those type of bounces go their way. Against Winnipeg, it seemed like everything they touched turned to gold. No pun intended, of course.
A most dangerous play
As the Predators extended their lead to 5-0 in the second period, tensions were clearly high on Winnipeg's end -- which is something that should be expected of a team that had allowed five goals prior to the midway point of the game.
What's not expected, though, is a player to go seemingly out of his way for one of the most dangerous types of hits in hockey: knee-to-knee contact.
Winnipeg's Mark Stuart -- who doesn't really have a history of these types of things -- extended out his right leg to connect on a knee-to-knee hit on Predators defenseman Seth Jones.
The result was two separate fights that included Nashville's Colton Sissons and Barret Jackman -- the latter who earned a game misconduct for being a part of a second on-ice fight -- and a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Nothing was called in regards to the illegal knee-to-knee check.
It was surprising, to say the least, as those types of hits are near-instantaneously called as such. Overall, Jones appeared to be ok as he came back to the ice just a couple of shifts later.
Tempers flare and so do penalty minutes
There aren't very many nights were Nashville sees 70-plus penalty minutes in a night and a combined 156 penalty minutes between both teams, but when one team outscores the other by seven goals those things tend to happen.
Four minutes into the third period, both Nashville and Winnipeg found themselves in the midst of what could only be described as a disagreement between both sets of lines. Such a disagreement to where even Rinne decided to come over and have his opinion on the matter.
Once both sides were separated apart, 11 separate minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct were issued -- including a penalty for Rinne who didn't necessarily do much, but did leave his crease to come over and take part in the series of disagreements along the boards.
That was just the beginning of it.
Predators forwards Gabriel Bourque and Filip Forsberg exchanged ten minute misconducts with Winnipeg defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba less than three minutes later.
Just over a minute after that, both Mike Ribeiro and Ben Chiarot earned themselves both a ten minute misconduct.
Overall, nine separate misconduct penalties were levied and 35 penalties total between both teams.
The combined total of 156 penalty minutes was the second-highest in Predators franchise history, eclipsing the previous total of 154 between Nashville and Calgary on March 20th, 2004 -- which, if you remember, was the night Miikka Kiprusoff and Tomas Vokoun dropped the gloves against each other.
The highest combined total? 210 penalty minutes.
Which game? If you guessed the October 30th, 2003 meeting between Nashville and Detroit, you guessed correctly.
I don't know if that game will ever be eclipsed in terms of the number of penalty minutes, but one can dream.
Craig Smith, Nashville Predators -- Smith collected his first goal since October 17th and added a couple of assists as well. It was his first three-point night since game two of Nashville's first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks last season
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators -- It may not have been the busiest of nights for Rinne, but he was sharp when he needed to be. The Finnish netminder stopped all 20 tries by the Jets to collect his second shutout of the season and 38th overall of his career.
Calle Jarnkrok, Nashville Predators -- Jarnkrok notched his first two-goal performance of his young NHL career. He's been great defensively for the first quarter of the season for Nashville, so it's nice to see him drop in a few goals from time to time.