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Nashville Predators 2, Winnipeg Jets 6: Blown Opportunity Pushes Preds to Brink

What started as a fast-paced, aggressive attack turned into a collapse that now sees the Predators’ season on the brink of ending sooner than most hoped or expected.

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

Cinco de Mayo turned out to be less of a party than hoped for — or expected, for that matter.

A four-goal flurry helped push the Nashville Predators to the brink of elimination as they suffered a 6-2 loss to Winnipeg on Saturday evening at Bridgestone Arena.

The series shifts back to Winnipeg for Monday’s Game 6 with the Jets holding a 3-2 series lead.

The first period was filled with plenty of offensive chances for the Predators - none of which were buried - and plenty of energy. Winnipeg had one early surge, but beyond that, the Jets were mostly fending off waves of Nashville attacks for the opening 20 minutes.

The Jets scored first with 12:16 to go in the second period when Patrik Laine’s shot redirected off of Paul Statsny’s glove and in the net.

Yannick Weber, who just a couple of moments earlier had thwarted a sure Jets goal, tied the game with a wrist shot above Hellebuyck’s blocker.

A scramble in front of Rinne led to Kyle Connor giving Winnipeg back the lead with 7:30 to play in the second. Not long thereafter, the Preds failed to clear the puck after a wild scramble in front of Rinne and Dustin Byfuglien blasted a shot home from the right point to push Winnipeg’s lead to 3-1.

Nashville inability to clear the puck led to another goal from Connor, putting the Preds in an even deeper hole.

Ryan Johansen pulled the Preds back within two with a shorthanded goal after Arvidsson took the game’s first penalty late in the second period.

Mark Schifele buried a chance 28 seconds into the third period after Connor turned Johansen around to create space for the setup pass.

Nashville’s first power play chance came and went without any really good scoring chances. Shortly thereafter, Ryan Hartman had a breakaway chance and was unable to get a shot away. He then went to the box for interference moments later.

Juuse Saros relieved Rinne after Winnipeg’s sixth goal, which came off of Mathieu Perrault’s stick 6:23 into the third, and had 13:37 of scoreless work.

Random Observations

  • Bridgestone Arena is a no-licking zone. Except for ice cream.
  • Also, even though it is Saturday night, 8:30 games are becoming old hat. But, if the Preds continue to win said late starts, it will bode well for them later on.
  • Fake noise. Yeah, right.
  • The lineup swapping contines as Fiala is back in for Hartnell. Meanwhile, Mathieu Perrault makes his series debut after missing the Jets’ last eight games.
  • Yikes, Lady A. It’s okay, though. They’ll get over that.
  • Somehow, someway, Hellebuyck kept Turris off the board on that rebound.
  • Preds really keeping things toward the Winnipeg zone early on. Good to see.
  • And yet, Winnipeg holds a 5-2 shots on goal advantage through 10 minutes. Preds have been wide quite a bit early on.
  • A couple of times, pucks have gotten tangled up in between feet right in the crease in front of Hellebuyck. So many good chances and can’t connect.
  • Preds are doing the little things well so far. Except finishing. It’s reminiscent of Game 1, and that’s not a good thing.
  • Pat Sajak in the house. Preds don’t need to buy a vowel, but they do need to buy a goal, though.
  • Peter Laviolette sending Forsberg out with Turris and Smith early in the second period.
  • Mike Fisher has been good so far tonight.
  • Sometimes Pekka Rinne does things that make your jaw hit the ground. That stick save on the wraparound attempt is one of those things.
  • Wait, that was indeed Yannick Weber that saved a goal.
  • But a slight breakdown led to the first goal as Statsny was left alone in front.
  • Yannick Weber has come to play, ladies and gentlemen.
  • This thing’s gotten too helter-skelter and the Jets like it that way.
  • Apparently the answer to the problem is go shorthanded and let Joey handle it.
  • Yeah, those chances the Preds didn’t bury in the first period have indeed come back to haunt them. Hard to think that it didn’t deflate them.
  • Great move by Connor to set up Schifele for that goal. That’s a dagger.
  • This series is on the defense. Aside from an excellent effort in Game 4, they’ve been atrocious in the series and Roman Josi is chief among the disappointments.
  • So much for home-ice advantage. Then again, that’s really been these entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, not just this series.
  • Basically, this is the biggest blown opportunity this franchise has ever had. They’re going to have their backs against the wall in Winnipeg against a team with an entire country behind it.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Weber. A goal-saving play and a goal of his own. Lone bright spot for the Preds tonight.
  2. Johansen. Shorthanded goal and looked confident early.
  3. Saros. Two-thirds of a period of relief and he kept his end of the bargain again.

Postgame Reaction

Subban on what experience the team can pull from entering an elimination game:

“We’re a character group. We’ve got a ton of experience in here. We’ve had our backs against the wall before and we’re going to go to Winnipeg, we’re going to win a game and we’re going to come back here. Every single guy in here believes that, so for us we’ve got to park this real quick and just get ready to win a Game 6 on the road. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, it’s going to be great for a way to build a lot of character in that game and bring it back here.”

Austin Watson on if there was any concern after the first period following a lot of missed scoring chances:

“There’s not enough time on the bench or in the game to really think about much else but your next shift. We just wanted to keep doing the same things. Kudos to (Hellebuyck), he made some big saves there in the first period and early part of the second, and they capitalized on some chances.

Josi on if there’s any sense of panic following the loss:

“No. I don’t think so. There’s no panic. I think we all know what we have to do. There’s no panic, no panic in the room. We’re a pretty confident group ... (Winnipeg) got a couple of bounces and got a couple of goals, but we’ve got to try to stick to our game plan.”

Johansen on giving the Jets too many high-danger chances near the crease:

“That’s how they scored a couple of their goals. It felt like one small breakdown and it just cost us. We’ve just got to stick with our plan and try to win a hockey game up in Winnipeg.”

Peter Laviolette on going back to Winnipeg facing an elimination game:

“We had to go to Winnipeg anyway, right? The plane’s already booked and we’re ready to go. There’s no group that I’d rather be with to win one hockey game than this group.”

Tweets of the Night

Game Extras