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Nashville Predators 1, Winnipeg Jets 2 (OT): Saros stellar in uninspiring game

It wasn't the team's best night.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets was another hard one to watch. And not just because of the blood.

First

The Nashville Predators started the first period slow, looking, unfortunately, exactly the same as they have for the last several games.

Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele had several good looks early on, and a sloppy Nashville line change almost cost the Predators, but goaltender Juuse Saros held strong.

Finally, with the Predators’ first shot on goal, Forsberg lit the lamp with an assist from Duchene to Granlund (9:04).

Pierre-Luc Dubois got ahead of Preds defenders—who have been struggling with the absence of Mark Borowiecki, Alexandre Carrier, Jeremy Lauzon, and Ryan McDonagh—and took a clean wrist shot that was stopped by Saros. Matt Duchene and Pierre-Luc Dubois mixed it up in front of the net, Roman Josi got involved, and both Dubois and Josi went to the penalty box for roughing, making for a 4 on 4.

Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm had a breakaway chance with a shot stopped by Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor took a shot that hit the post, and came back around for another try. The second shot crossed in front of the net, and Saros couldn’t reach across, allowing DeMelo to poke it in from down on the ice for his first goal in 87 games (15:24).

The Preds still haven’t scored in a 4-on-4 this season.

Veteran Jets defender Nate Schmidt got rocked by Tanner Jeannot’s shoulder, which the referees considered clean. Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry challenged Jeannot in response, Jeannot responded by taking him down. They got 5 minutes each for fighting.

The Preds had 6 shots to the Jets’ 10 in the first.

SECOND

Winnipeg looked way more aggressive immediately out of the gate in the second period, putting the Preds defense on their back foot.

Cole Smith tripped Scheifele, and Winnipeg went on the power play just before the halfway point of the period. Saros kept the Preds’ penalty kill alive through to the end, finishing off by snatching the puck right out of the air.

The Jets doubled their first period shots in the first half of the second.

Ryan Johansen was called for hooking, and once again Saros’s skilled goalkeeping kept Winnipeg from scoring. The Jets’ right winger Blake Wheeler got hit by a puck shot on Nashville’s goal, and headed off the ice while Saros made several more rebound saves to kill off the power play.

Winnipeg’s Jansen Harkins high-sticked Forsberg in the face, drawing blood and sending him to the bench for repairs. The Jets killed the double minor power play easily.

Forsberg was able to get back on the ice, just to immediately be called for holding Adam Lowry, sending the Preds right back on the PK to cap off the period.

THIRD

Cody Glass, who was playing in his hometown of Winnipeg for the first time as a Predator, had a steal and great shot, but it was blocked by Hellebuyck.

Nashville’s recent call-up from Milwaukee Roland McKeown sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game and the Jets’ fourth power play of the night. The Jets PP was good and aggressive, and Saros somehow kept the puck out again for another Preds kill. Meanwhile, Yakov Trenin and Blake Wheeler got into it, as do McKeown and DuBois, and Wheeler, DuBois, and McKeown all go to the box for roughing for a 4 on 3 Nashville power play.

Guess how that went.

The rest of the period was basically just the Predators’ defense holding on for dear life and Saros doing his best to keep them in the game. Stay in they did, ending regulation at 1 goal apiece.

OT

Three on three overtime began with Forsberg, Johansen, and Josi for the Preds, and Dubois, Connor, and Josh Morrissey for the Jets.

A collision allowed Granlund to have a look, but the rebound went off a skate, letting Morrissey take it all the way. His shot went wide.

A couple more minutes of back and forth had it looking like it might go to a shootout, but eventually Kyle Connor trickled one through Saros’s legs with 1:29 left.

The Predators have looked worse. But they’ve certainly looked better. We’ll take the loser point.