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Nashville Predators 3, Winnipeg Jets 1: Shorthanded Goals Fuel Soaring Preds

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A couple of 1st period shorties were all the Preds needed to handle the hobbled Jets.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After a grueling 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, the Nashville Predators have extended their lead in the Central, extended their lead in the West, and are now tied for the lead in the league.

It wasn’t exactly a cake walk, and a late injury to Calle Jarnkrok does leave you somewhat worried, but the Preds owned the Jets for a crucial 20-25 minutes in this one and held them off the rest of the way.

The Predators started with a hailstorm of shots on backup Micheal Hutchinson. Fueled by an early power play, the Preds surged and went up 1-0 on a goal by Kevin Fiala. Not long after that, Mike Fisher went to the penalty box, but not to worry: back-to-back shorthanded goals by Austin Watson and Viktor Arvidsson put the Preds up 3-0 and the Jets’ power play was no more.

It was as dominant a first 10 minutes as I’ve ever seen by the Preds. They were just torching the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck, who played last night in Washington, came in to relieve Hutchinson, though I’m not sure Hutchinson was the problem.

Following a bunch of bad deeds by the Jets, the Preds had a 5-on-3 power play go to waste, but continued to pour on the offense. By the end of the period they lead 24-6 in shots and 3-0 in goals.

In the 2nd period, the Preds didn’t let up. Though the shot count didn’t climb quite as rapidly, they played very tough hockey in their own zone, limiting the Jets’ chances. This led to several quick rushes the other way and were it not for Hellebuyck and some odd bounces here and there, the Preds might have put one or two more on early in the period.

There was also a lot more physical play—from both teams—in the middle frame. Thankfully, this didn’t lead to any goal scoring and the Preds took a 3-0 lead into the 3rd period.

It didn’t last long. Kyle Connor got the Jets on the board first with a rebound goal on the power play. He sort of got lost in the defense, with the Preds trying to defend too high on the point. Suddenly a three goal lead was down to two with over 18 minutes left in the game.

The game devolved somewhat into a muck-fest, with the Preds eating up time on the boards and the Jets forced to take short shifts with a bunch of tired legs. They nearly scored as a puck got by Rinne, but Austin Watson made a goal saving play (even if it ended with a penalty). Hellebuyck ended up making some big saves to keep the game close, so that goalie change might have been huge for the Jets had they tied it late.

But they didn’t. The Preds held on to win 3-1 behind 32 saves from Pekka Rinne.

Late in the 3rd period though Calle Jarnkrok was hit late and high from behind by Andrew Copp. Jarnkrok’s head took an awful bounce off the window, but there was no call from the ref. Jarnkrok left and didn’t return.

The entire Jets team looked (reasonably) tired from the game the night before and facing a team with a whole lot speed. The Preds saw an opportunity to pounce on a weakened opponent and seized it.

Random Observations

  • So apparently Paul Stastny got injured in warmups because he was a late scratch. Crazy injury bad luck for the Jets.
  • A power play to start off? OK sure.
  • Holy smokes, that power play did everything but sco—
  • KEVIN FIALA!! Takes the feed from Josi and buries it from the slot. Dang that was a beautiful play.
  • Shots are 13-0. The Jets played last night and the Preds are taking open body shots.
  • Holy smokes again! Two shortys in a row. That was nuts. The Preds are better 4v5 tonight than they are 5v5 (and they are pretty good at 5v5).
  • When this team gets going, they are hard to stop. That was a completely dominant period of hockey by Nashville. I’m not sure any team could beat that, honestly.
  • I really like Turris’ game on the boards. He doesn’t have the size that the rest of the Preds’ centers do, but he doesn’t play like it. Really active stick and great touch to get the puck where it needs to go.
  • Rinne starting to shine. Just sniped one out of the air from Ehlers, who has a crazy good shot. Then another scramble with the Preds on the penalty kill.
  • Preds not taking any shit tonight. Plenty of after the whistle junk going on from both sides.
  • Let’s get this 3rd period out of the way, folks.
  • That’s not a good start. Connor scores on a power play. It’s a two goal lead and momentum is gone.
  • Ok, the Preds are fighting back a bit now. There’s plenty of time left in this one, they don’t seem interesting in making it any closer.
  • The Jets are doing a LOT of hacking. And hooking. And holding.
  • WOWWWW. Watson just saved a goal behind Rinne, then sent it into the crowd. Then the Preds held on the ensuing penalty kill.

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game

  1. Pekka Rinne: 32 saves and a Vezina-like performance.
  2. Austin Watson: His game is a lot of fun to watch right now. His possession numbers are the best they’ve ever been, he’s a crucial penalty killer, he can score, and then he saved a goal off the line behind Rinne tonight. Love Watty.
  3. Andy Axel: Fan of the game at Bridgestone. We are so proud.

Tweets of the Night

(Ok, not from tonight, but I just now saw it, so it goes in)

Game Extras