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Nashville Predators 5, Winnipeg Jets 4: Fiala’s OT Winner Ties Series

The Preds’ top line was just what the doctor ordered, and Kevin Fiala was an overtime hero again.

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

The JOFA line took things into its own hands in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday evening.

However, the Nashville Predators needed a little overtime magic to secure a split in the first two games of the best-of-seven series, as Kevin Fiala scored 5:37 into the second overtime to give the Preds a 5-4 victory over Winnipeg.

Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson combined for eight points in the game.

Carrie Underwood barely had time to leave the ice before Johansen put the Preds up 1-0, scoring his third goal of the playoffs just 27 seconds into the contest.

Ryan Hartman took the Preds’ first penalty of the series, but the Jets’ power play was cut short after Blake Wheeler was sent off for a tripping call of his own after 52 seconds had elapsed.

Just 14 seconds after Arvidsson was called for interference, Dustin Byfuglien tied the game at the 12:47 mark. That goal was followed up by one from Mark Scheifele that put Winnipeg ahead only 29 seconds later.

Colton Sissons drew a tripping penalty four minutes into the second period and P.K. Subban’s slap shot on the power play tied the game at the 5:04 mark.

A misplay in the neutral zone allowed Arvidsson to skate in for a slap shot, beating Hellebuyck with 1:19 left in the second period and giving the Preds a 3-2 lead.

After some extracurricular activities to end the second period, Nashville found itself facing a penalty kill to begin the third, but the Preds killed it without much resistance.

Brandon Tanev tied the game again 5:11 into the third period, but it was answered 34 seconds by Johansen, who twisted around Tobias Enstrom and got in on Hellebuyck alone to give the Preds a 4-3 lead.

With Hellebuyck pulled, Scheifele scored his second of the game to tie things again.

Each team had several chances in the first 10 minutes of overtime, but Mike Fisher and Arvidsson each had chances from close range on loose pucks to win it, but could not convert. The 2nd OT started with the same pace, until eventually Fiala found a pass from Craig Smith right in front and deked home the winner.

Random Observations

  • Ryan Hartman out for pregame warmups means at least Lavi’s thinking about a lineup change. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen.
  • Hartman in, Salomaki out. Improvement, for sure.
  • That first goal, getting it so early, is huge in a lot of ways. It was a real shot of energy to a building that quite honestly didn’t need it all that much.
  • Honoring James Shaw, Jr. during the first period was a great moment. He certainly deserved the standing ovation he got.
  • The best thing about the first power play was Viktor Arvidsson going after Tyler Myers in front of the net.
  • This game got turned on its head quickly. Pekka does not look like regular season Pekka, and that’s a very bad sign.
  • The captain isn’t having any of what Brandon Tanev has to offer.
  • All the momentum of that start is gone, and the Jets were the better team overall in that period.
  • Chris Isaak on the bandstage dedicating “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing” to the refs. Solid.
  • You’d think a team named the Jets would be committing the worst kind of turnovers, but nope, it’s the Preds giving the puck away again. What happened to simplifying things?
  • The Jets are taking some dumb penalties 200 feet from their goal. This one cost them.
  • Better movement, both with the puck and without, on that power play, combined with traffic in front. That’s a good recipe for success on the man advantage.
  • A GLORIOUS chance for Kevin Fiala and he just goes high with it...what a feed from Craig Smith to get him in front, too.
  • Hendricks does it again, this time committing a penalty that wipes out an apparent Jets goal.
  • A couple of good chances early in the ensuing power play, but Winnipeg clogged up the neutral zone in the back half of that sequence.
  • Arvy’s slapper is such a lethal weapon. Did he have that checked at the door? Wow.
  • This penalty kill to start the third was as solid as it gets. No shots on goal allowed and no chances to set up, either. Ideal start to the third period in that situation.
  • A bad breakout led to that goal. Everybody to blame there.
  • What an answer from Ryan Johansen.
  • Score effects aside, this needs to still be a bit of a north-south game from the Preds. In other words, no turtling.
  • Letting Laine fire at will while defending a one-goal lead isn’t my idea of a good late-game strategy.
  • And that’s why we can’t have nice things.
  • A flurry to begin overtime for the Preds, then the Jets answer with a wave of attacks at the other end.
  • Arvy had the game on his stick right there. Just a desperation block by Byfuglien.
  • Alexei Emelin just destroyed Adam Lowry.
  • All these chances and not converting them...
  • Now Bonino in close, can’t put it home.
  • More overtime. Yay.
  • Wow. Fiala with another OT dagger for the second year in a row.

Super Duper Three Stars of the Game

  1. Fiala. Biggest goal of the year.
  2. Johansen. That’s the kind of game you pay him big money for.
  3. Arvidsson. A goal and two assists, and not backing down from Tyler Myers, either.

Postgame Reaction

Johansen on the overtime periods...

“I thought overtime, we took it to them, we were the better team and we kept coming, wave after wave ... Everybody was playing well, everybody was playing smart hockey. It was a good team game.”

Fiala on the mindset as the series shifts to Winnipeg...

“Steal. Win the next one. That’s the mindset.”

Arvidsson on Johansen’s play in Game 2...

“He’s big. He’s a top centerman in this league and he can make things happen out of nothing. Big body, you can see on the (second) goal there, he made a power move and cut in front and put it top shelf. It was a nice play.”

On the strong play of his line...

“I think we worked hard, we supported each other and played in the o-zone a lot. I feel like that was a big part. We got the pucks deep, played a simple game and just put pucks at the net.”

Subban on handling adversity early in the series...

“This is really good for us. This type of adversity, early on in the series is great for us and we found a way to win. Now we’ve got to go on the road and do what we’ve done all year, and that’s win. For us right now, we’ve just got to get some rest and get some good food, some good eats, get some good rest and get ready for the toughest road trip of the year.”

Laviolette on the last 10 minutes of the third period...

“I can’t speak for other coaches, but we don’t say sit back and try to defend our net. Sometimes it happens, and you’ve got to remember that there’s a good team on the other side. They’ve scored a lot of goals, they have a lot of good players and that was their period. They did a good job.”

Tweets of the Night

Game Extras