Whoooo boy! Strap in for this one.
It took a while for the Predators to get their legs under them, but they eventually did. Early on, newcomer Hartman and the 4th line brought some energy while the top three lines poured on some shots. Pekka Rinne made a couple nice saves on the power play. Patrik Laine hit the post on the power play.
It was a fairly balanced 1st period, though the shot advantage went to the Preds 13-11. It was very different from the 2nd period, which was completely nuts.
First, former Pred Matt Hendricks found some space in between the circles and ripped one by Pekka Rinne to give the Jets a 1-0 lead with 2:45 gone in the period. This gave the crowd at the Bell MTS Place some life and the Jets poured on some shots for a while. But then Craig Smith answered after a nice feed from Roman Josi to tie the game 1-1 with 11:05 left.
Then a lot of bad stuff happened.
P.K. Subban and Mark Sheifele got into a brief scrum, which led to some 4-on-4 hockey. Soon after he came out of the box, Scheifele scored to give the Jets a 2-1 lead. Then after a bad penalty call on Scott Hartnell, Sheifele scored again to take a 3-1 lead. It was alllll Jets at that point.
But out of nowhere, Kyle Turris pounced on a loose puck in the slot and scored to make it 3-2. New life! And then, after a failed offside challenge from Winnipeg, the Preds got a power play. The man advantage looked about as awful as any that we’ve seen from this team (and we’ve seen a lot of awful ones) but somehow with one second left Mattias Ekholm wristed one from the circle by Connor Hellebuyck to tie the game.
[pauses to breathe]
But we weren’t done with the 2nd period yet! Nikolaj Ehlers sped down the right side and wristed one by Rinne on the far post to give the Jets a 4-3 game heading into the 3rd period.
[pauses to breathe again]
An early wasted power play for the Preds in the 3rd period led to some sustained pressure but no goals. The Jets clogged up the middle of the ice and forced the Preds to either cycle the puck or take a weak shot from outside. At one point, Laine elbowed Hartnell clearly in the face, but there was no call.
A short while later, Winnipeg newbie Paul Stastny scored to make it 5-3 and it looked like Nashville’s night might be over.
But hold on! Craig Smith scored his 2nd of the night with an absolute laser of a wrist shot to make it 5-4. With the momentum back, the Preds poured it on which led to Ryan Johansen tying the game on a weird short side shot that just squeaked by Hellebuyck.
So at this point, you are kind of thinking overtime and, to be honest, the Jets looked like they were prime to eke out an OT or SO win.
But that’s obviously not what Roman Josi wanted, because he polished off his night with an incredible backdoor feed to Hartman who deflected it home for a sixth goal with one minute remaining.
The Jets pulled Hellebuyck, but it was too late. Preds win 6-5.
This was clearly the best game of the year, from a pure entertainment perspective, even if the Preds did look pretty rough for a good bit of it. The boys didn’t quit and the captain led the way.
Now on to Edmonton!
OTF Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Roman Josi: Five assists on the night, which is a career high for him. Only the 2nd time a Preds has dished five apples in one game.
- Craig Smith: Two goals, which gives him 20 on the year. Excellent night. Him and Turris were all over it tonight.
- Ryan Hartman: Yes!! The new guy gets on the stars list in his first game! Yeahhhhh