Nashville Predators 0, Winnipeg Jets 2: Depleted Preds fall short in huge game
A brutal second period killed the Preds' chances of winning the game, and probably also of making the playoffs.
The Nashville Predators faced the Winnipeg Jets in what's probably the make-or-break game of both teams' seasons, and, well, the make and the break definitely went in one direction.
The Preds did not get off to the start you'd like to see under those circumstances, as Cody Glass took a penalty just 1:20 in. The Preds were able to kill off the penalty, and managed to get a little momentum out of it, especially when the Jets' Dylan DeMelo boarded Zach Sanford. Yakov Trenin had a solid chance on the power play, but no dice, and the teams returned to even strength.
Winnipeg began to push back right before the Preds committed a too-many-men penalty. While the Preds were again able to kill it off, the Jets continued to attack, finishing the first period strong and starting the second period even stronger.
Their offense was relentless, piling on the chances and eventually trapping the Preds in their own zone for an extended shift approaching halfway through the second. Juuse Saros was finally able to freeze the puck, several small eternities after a very lucky crossbar stopped a Nikolaj Ehlers shot, but even the length of a TV timeout wasn't enough to let the Preds regroup.
Finally, the Preds managed to locate the offensive zone. While they weren't able to give Connor Hellebuyck much to do, it still gave them a brief respite before the Jets went back on the attack. With 4:54 remaining in the second, Mark Scheifele finally got one past Saros. The Preds were unable to summon any pushback, and Colton Sissons promptly took a tripping penalty.
Ehlers hit another crossbar right before the puck and Saros entered the net, with the refs immediately waving the goal off. The whistle didn't sound before Pierre-Luc Dubois pushed the puck under Saros, but the goal headed to review anyway. Wes McCauley confirmed the original call, and the Preds were the rare beneficiary of what I can only guess was an intent-to-blow call.
With the penalty killed, the Preds tried to summon up an attack, but were once again able to get much of anything going. The period ended and the next began, with Neal Pionk scoring to put the Jets up 2-0 at 1:36 of the third. Again, the Preds were unable to summon up any kind of sustained pushback.
Still, at least they were able to slow the Jets down a little. With under six minutes in the period, Nashville actually managed multiple consecutive chances, and Glass rang iron. Kiefer Sherwood and Luke Evangelista combined for a few more good looks late, but Hellebuyck was up to the task.
The Preds pulled Saros late, but were unable to score. Sherwood saved an empty-netter, but it was no use. A scuffle broke out with 8.2 seconds to go, but no penalties were assessed, and the clock ran down and out.