Nashville Predators 2, New York Rangers 1: Finns, callups shine in gutsy win

Jusso Pärssinen and Juuse Saros both came up huge tonight, with a GWG from Mark Jankowski.

The Nashville Predators returned home to take on the New York Rangers. Juuse Saros got the start in net after a disappointing performance from Kevin Lankinen on Thursday, Juuso Pärssinen got a look in the NHL, and

Ryan Reaves took a slashing penalty early, giving the Predators a chance on the power play. Pärssinen impressed early, both on the first power play unit and at even strength after, where he drove to the net and scored his first NHL goal with just under five minutes elapsed.

The next penalty was taken by Cole Smith. who hooked Jimmy Vesey and sat for two minutes. Tanner Jeannot and Colton Sissons combined for a good shorthanded chance early, but Jaroslav Hálak made the save, and the Rangers circled back in to attack. Their power play had some good looks, but Saros was able to keep the door shut.

Mika Zibanejad and Filip Forsberg traded great chances after that, with the Preds’ defense managing to contain Zibanejad and Hálak managing to stymie Forsberg. Roman Josi drew a tripping penalty at a faceoff, and Pärssinen once again impressed on the power play, but—again—no joy. Then Kaapo Kakko, who had taken the Rangers’ last penalty, drew a tripping penalty of his own from Ryan McDonagh. The Predators were able to kill the penalty, and the period came to an end.

The second period started with a good chance from Jacob Trouba and a better save from Saros. Then Mattias Ekholm joined the parade to the penalty box, after an iffy call on a smart play by Zibanejad, and the Rangers’ power play got yet another try. Jeannot and Sissons once again broke in shorthanded, Vincent Trocheck hit a post and Saros lost track of the puck, but luckily it was in a safe spot, and the Preds returned to killing the penalty.

The next penalty came as the Rangers put too many men on the ice in a botched line change. Vesey got a shorthanded chance, Saros made a save, and the Predators went back on the attack. They were unable to convert on the power play, but a few minutes later Roman Josi set up Mark Jankowski with a perfect pass to double the Preds’ lead.

Just after that, Saros had to make a full-body save on Julien Gauthier without his stick, and just barely managed it. A moment later, hostilities broke out between the teams, with Ryans Lindgren and Johansen ultimately sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Shortly after the teams returned to even strength, Adam Fox made a phenomenal pass from behind the net, right past Michael McCarron, and Filip Chytil got the Rangers on the board, 2-1. Immediately after, Lindgren got a fight—as he’d been hoping for against Johansen—against Jeremy Lauzon. Both players took a seat.

The Rangers ran away with the rest of the period. The best chance was probably Artemi Panarin’s, with a massive save from Saros to counter it. The period expired without further scoring by either team.

Filip Forsberg broke his stick on the first play of the third period, and Vesey pounced on the opportunity, with Saros once again tested and successful. The Predators got another power play moments later, as Libor Hajek was called for hooking, but the Rangers’ aggressive penalty kill kept them from really getting set up.

Vesey took a Zibanejad puck to the head a little under halfway through the period and dropped to the ice. Players from both teams clustered silently around him until he was able to get back up and skate off, but he did make it off the ice without needing help, and play resumed.

Both the overall negative energy between the teams and the Rangers’ attack intensified as the period continued. Duchene counterattacked against the flow of play, but Halak was able to make the save. Gauthier missed a wide-open net after a DZ turnover, a very lucky bounce for Nashville.

Reaves hit Ryan McDonagh from behind, and Jeannot immediately descended to fight him over it. For whatever reason, the penalties assessed were five each for fighting to those two combatants, plus a double-minor to Lauzon for high-sticking Sammy Blais. It looked like Blais skated straight into Lauzon’s stick, and Jeannot probably should have gotten an instigator penalty instead, but the outcome was the same.

The Rangers’ excellent power play would have up to four minutes, late in a game they were trailing by one and with Jeannot unavailable to help the Preds on the kill. Hálak remained in net to start the power play, however, and he had to make an early save as McCarron crashed the net shorthanded. With one minute left in the penalty kill, Saros decided to go on an adventure behind the net and made it back just in time; seconds after that, the Rangers pulled their goalie to go 6-on-4.

The Preds killed the double minor, but their penalty killers were exhausted, and Lauzon couldn’t clear the zone. McDonagh finally managed to shoot the puck—trying for the empty net—so it deflected out of play, and the roar of applause that had been bolstering the penalty killers increased as they were finally able to skate off the ice.

Hálak returned to the net for the neutral zone faceoff, but the Rangers immediately went back on the attack, and he headed back to the bench. Filip Forsberg had a chance at the empty net but didn’t manage it; Mikael Granlund’s subsequent try went for icing. McDonagh opted for a safe play, forcing the Rangers to skate it back in; Saros stopped a flurry of shots. Granlund cleared the puck in the final seconds of the period, which went for icing again.

0.1 of a second was put back on the clock after the final horn, on the grounds that the Rangers had managed to touch up, but, unsurprisingly, they were unable to score in that tenth of a second, even with a faceoff in their offensive zone.