Predators beat Jets 5-4 in double overtime
Series tied 1-1 with next game Tuesday in Winnipeg
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/04/2018 (1856 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NASHVILLE — It was a prize fight between a pair of hockey heavyweights, with each absorbing plenty of blows while dishing out some damage of their own.
Fittingly, this one went the distance and then some, but it was the Nashville Predators who were left standing Sunday night after a thrilling 5-4 double overtime victory at Bridgestone Arena.
Kevin Fiala scored the winner 5:37 into the fifth period to give his team a split on home ice following Winnipeg’s 4-1 victory Friday. This battle of the NHL titans is now down to a best-of-five series when it resumes Tuesday night at Bell MTS Place.
“It’s a sucky way to lose,” said Mark Scheifele, who had sent it to extra time by scoring with 65 seconds left in the third period and the Jets net empty for an extra attacker. “But we played a better game than we did on Friday. That’s a positive. We can be upset for 10 minutes and then after that, we’ve got to get our rest and then get ready for Tuesday.”
Game 2 was an instant classic. The Jets and Predators traded scoring chances throughout the night, which were only amplified during a wildly entertaining sudden-death session.
“Playoff hockey is fun. It’s exciting. You’re going to win games, you’re going to lose games, you’re going to get down in games and you’re going to be up in games. There’s a lot of adversity that goes through a series and that’s the reason they’re best four out of seven,” said Scheifele.
“We had our chances, they had their chances. That’s the way it happens in overtime. It’s definitely a sucky way to be on the bad side of it, but it’s over.”
This game pretty much had all the momentum swings Scheifele described wrapped into the 85:37 of action, even if the end result left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Jets.
“It’s not easy to swallow a loss this time of year by any means. I’d have rather we played like horse crap and won the game, but we’re in a tied series right now and we’re going home for two games, which is important,” said veteran forward Matt Hendricks.
Nashville got off to a red-hot start as Ryan Johansen opened the scoring just 27 seconds into the game, igniting the raucous hometown crowd. That snapped a streak of 10 consecutive games in which Winnipeg had struck first.
The Jets showed plenty of resolve as Dustin Byfuglien tied it just past the midway mark of the period, and then Scheifele converted a pass from Paul Stastny only 29 seconds later with his team on the power play.
Patrik Laine nearly made it 3-1 less than a minute later as he rang a shot off the post, while captain Blake Wheeler had another glorious chance for Winnipeg early in the second period, but fired high and wide on a partial breakaway.
Back came Nashville, as P.K. Subban fired a one-timer on the power-play just over five minutes into the middle frame.
There was even a bit of controversy mixed in on this night as Andrew Copp appeared to give Winnipeg the lead back, but his goal was waved off due to a Hendricks interference penalty. His cross-check on a Nashville defender allowed Copp to jump on a loose puck and bury it.
“The rebound, the way it was coming out, (defenceman Matt) Irwin would have had the angle to the puck so I just tried to get him off balance with a push and I guess he went down so it was a penalty. Tough time, tough break, but you know, it happens,” said Hendricks.
Nashville took the led into the intermission as Viktor Arvidsson scored with 1:19 left in the second. Defenceman Ben Chiarot made a costly pinch that the Predators took advantage of.
The Jets fired back early in the third period as Brandon Tanev continued to display the hot hand, scoring his second goal in as many games and third of the playoffs.
But Johansen counter-punched just 34 seconds later when he walked around defenceman Toby Enstrom and beat Connor Hellebuyck high.
Then came Scheifele’s late game heroics. His goal happened just seconds after he hit the post and is already his eighth of the post-season, which leads all NHL scorers.
“When he runs hot he can put it in the net with the best of them,” said Wheeler, who made a perfect pass to Scheifele for the goal. “It was great to force it. We were on the ropes and down a goal. I really liked that compete right to the end and tie the game up. It gave us a chance to win.”
Coach Paul Maurice was rolling four lines through overtime, and it was the fourth unit caught on the ice when Fiala scored the winner. Hendricks had just changed in favour of rookie Kyle Connor who joined fellow rookie Jack Roslovic and Andrew Copp. That was an ideal match-up for Nashville, getting their second-line out and taking advantage of a turnover.
Enstrom was caught out of position as Copp and Roslovic bunched together, leaving plenty of open ice for the Predators. Craig Smith fed Fiala who waited out Hellebuyck for the goal.
Maurice said playing the fourth line was a product of shortening the bench during the third period while pressing for the tie.
“At the end we ran a number of lines harder than you normally would in the last 10 minutes of the third, so by the time we got in the second overtime, we were rolling everybody,” he said. “It’s an important process for us to go through having lost an overtime game. Now we’ve got to rebound because all of the emotion that goes into tying it late, feeling good about that, losing in double overtime, now you’ve got to rebound.”
Wheeler said there are many positives to build on front this defeat, including how the Jets twice rallied from deficits while also firing 50 shots at Rinne after only 19 in Game 1.
“I think you come into a series like this, starting on the road and want to get a win. Certainly we had an opportunity to take two, and after winning the first one that was our goal. We really like our spot right now, though,” said Wheeler.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
Updated on Sunday, April 29, 2018 11:57 PM CDT: adds slideshow of local viewing party