Nashville Predators 4, New Jersey Devils 3 (OT): Johansen scores two in bumpy W

Juuse Saros made some clutch saves to help the Preds make it to OT.

The Nashville Predators took the road to face the red-hot (and very good) New Jersey Devils.

Ryan Johansen got the game started off strong with a goal scored eleven seconds in, and the Devils responded strongly. They piled the shots and chances on, keeping the Preds on the back foot throughout the first half of the first period. Juuse Saros looked comfortable in net throughout, with the Preds doing relatively well at protecting the crease itself and letting him see the play.

A brief Predators resurgence was interrupted when Ryan McDonagh was called for high-sticking against Fabian Zetterlund, giving the Devils a chance on the power play. However, the Preds’ penalty kill kept them from getting a shot on goal despite a few lively chances. Tanner Jeannot had a good clear in there.

The teams returned to even strength. While the Devils continued to play well, with some good work from Vitek Vanacek, the Preds more than held their own, and with 44 seconds left in the period Roman Josi made a strong play to set Colton Sissons up for the Preds’ second goal.

The Devils came out strong to start the second period, and it paid off. Jack Hughes set up Kevin Bahl for a goal just under two minutes in—Saros didn’t seem to see it at all. Seconds later, Filip Forsberg took a tripping penalty, and the Devils scored early on the power play to tie the game 2-2, with the goal from Jesper Bratt.

Cody Glass tried to retaliate, but Vanacek had the save. Play went hectically back and forth for the next minute or so, with breakways from both teams, a broken stick for Jeremy Lauzon, and ultimately a Dante Fabbro penalty on Bratt that probably kept him from scoring a second goal.

However, New Jersey’s Alexander Holtz promptly scored on the power play anyway, with Roman Josi and one of the other Devils blocking Saros’s line of sight. 3-2 Devils. The Predators tried to regain the lead, with some diligent possession and zone time, but the Devils’ defense and Vanacek had it on lockdown.

The Devils continued their good play heading into the third, but as the period went on the Predators were able to push back.

Jeannot hit the crossbar with seven minutes to go, a shot so good he thought it had gone in for a moment. Right after that, Forsberg drew a penalty, with Dougie Hamilton heading to the box for interference. Nico Hischier got a shorthanded chance and Saros had to make a massive save. Then another one, as the Preds turned the puck over again.

The Devils killed the penalty without much difficulty and went back on the attack. With around four minutes to go, Saros lost his stick, and play continued for much of a shift without it as the Devils pressed the attack. He made some saves regardless, and was rewarded with Nashville taking a bench minor for too many men.

While the Preds were able to kill the penalty, it seriously hindered their ability to tie the game late. Still, with Saros pulled and 8.4 seconds remaining, Mikael Granlund was able to pick up a Forsberg rebound to tie the game 3-3. The clock was adjusted to make it 9.8 seconds remaining, but neither team scored again and the game headed to overtime.

Ryan Johansen scored again on the first shift of overtime, thanks to a great steal from Matt Duchene, to give the Preds the 4-3 OT win.