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The Predators Tied The Series With Quality Shooting and Effective Screens

Kevin Fiala saves the day, and the Preds head to the ‘Peg tied 1-1.

Winnipeg Jets v Nashville Predators - Game Two Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Wow. The series is tied at 1-1 and the teams are headed to Winnipeg, but not without finishing a Game 2 that nearly gave us all a heart attack.

Before the puck dropped, a beautiful rendition of the national anthem sung by the (former) captain’s wife got the crowd in a good mood. If you missed it, shame on you, but also here it is:

After that, everyone’s favorite offensive lineman—and his posse of other linemen and a quarterback—hyped up the crowd in a way only he could. Taylor Lewan drank some Bud Light out of the world’s largest catfish, chugged a second Bud Light, and finished it all of with a choice hand signal in the general direction of the Winnipeg Jets. Which got everyone in gold, and I mean everyone, fired up.

27 seconds into the game, Ryan Johansen shot the puck—I know, it was crazy—and went top shelf to give the Preds an extremely quick 1-0 lead.

So what made this shot work when the Preds struggled to score on similar chances in Game 1? Well, exactly what I said it would take to get pucks past Hellebuyck in my series position preview. The Preds got someone, Viktor Arvidsson, in front of the goal screening Hellebuyck, and a gorgeous shot for Joey from nearly point-blank range gave the Preds an early lead.

And guess what? They did it again on Subban’s snipe from the blue line that tied the game back up at 2-2. There’s Arvy again...

If the Preds can keep getting traffic in front of Hellebuyck—as well as put up quality shots consistently—these two teams will be in for an interesting series.

The other two regulation goals came off of a snipe from Viktor Arvidsson that no goalie was stopping and a Forsberg-esque goal from Johansen. And of course I could talk about the Fiala goal, but that goal is a great play by the second line combined with a tired defense and goalie. It sure is beautiful though, so here you go:

The penalty kill also deserves a round of applause after last night. The Preds went to the box 3 times, and they only gave up 3 unblocked shots. As for the one powerplay goal that the Jets had, Rinne can be blamed for not getting a glove on the shot, but his defensmen didn’t give him much help (but what’s new) in terms of defending after the Laine shot took an odd bounce.

While the Predators were out-shot tonight, it was not the same as when the Jets were out-shot in Game 1. The Preds lost the first game of this series despite playing fantastic hockey, and last night they played some more fantastic hockey to tie up the series.

Interestingly enough, the 3rd line and 3rd D pairing did not start a single shift in the offensive zone [at 5v5]. Conversely, the 2nd line for Nashville started 0 shifts in the defensive zone [again, at 5v5]. A lot of that can be attributed to the home team deploying lines second, but it’s still interesting to look at who started shifts where.

Almost more interestingly, the Wolverine Kevin Fiala scored the game winning goal 368 days after breaking his femur in Game 1 of last year’s second round.

If the Preds can keep this up, we’re in for a lot more Fiala hair flips, some longer playoffs beards, and just maybe some more banners headed up to the rafters in Bridgestone.