Game #4: Winnipeg Jets vs Nashville Predators
A Rivalry Far Beyond Numbers
After having gone hard at it during playoffs in April and May of this year, with the Winnipeg Jets coming out victorious over the Nashville Predators in an intense seven game series during the 2018 NHL playoffs, their first meeting would begin at a boiling point. Revenge was in the hearts of the Nashville Predators, who came out with a 3-0 win on the scoreboard over the visiting Jets. However, in terms of other statistics, the Jets came out on top in all counts over the Predators, locking them out during all nine power plays they had throughout the game.
For the first half of the opening period, the speed was unlike anything one might expect for a regular season game. The passes and skating from both sides were extremely fast, but in spite of attempts made at both ends of the ice, there was no scoring. In fact, as both goaltenders had been nominated for the Vezina Trophy this past year in Connor Hellebuyck and Pekka Rinne, the latter of the two who eventually won the trophy, one naturally expected a low scoring affair.
In the first period, the only numbers showing up on the score clock were the penalties assessed to the Winnipeg Jets. The first came at 12:24, as Ben Chiarot was put in the box, given 2 minutes for slashing. The penalty was killed, ironically enough, with the best scoring chances being shown by the Jets. However, Rinne stood tall and kept the puck out. Once the penalty expired, at 14:30 the Jets’ Patrik Laine appeared to be chirping something at Rinne—one might wonder what the conversation was between the two Finnish gentlemen—but no call was made on the play. Nonetheless, seeing the pair of 6’5” players going nose to nose and chatting briefly was an interesting sight to witness.
At 15:49, after an errant high stick by Laine into the beard of PK Subban, after Subban appeared to “check” his injury with his fingers, and blood was shown, Laine was assessed 4 minutes for high sticking.
Like the previous short handed times for the Winnipeg Jets, there were several Jets chances at scoring short handed goals, with speedster Brandon Tanev catching a breakaway with 3 seconds left in the penalty kill.
The first goal didn't take place until 3:20 of the second period.
The first goal by the Predators did not come until the 3:20 mark of the second period by Ryan Hartman. The swift forward intercepted a pass in his own zone and broke away, scoring the even strength marker, beating the Jets’ defenders in the footrace with the unassisted goal. A few minutes later at 7:20, an outstanding staredown by Brian Little against one of the Predators’ defenders considering coming out of the zone lasted a good minute. The tempers flared as Filip Forsberg crosschecked Kyle Connor near the Predator’s net. Captain Blake Wheeler charged in and defended the sophomore forward. As a result, Wheeler was given a 2 minute roughing penalty at 8:32.
The penalty parade continued as Nikolaj Ehlers was assessed a 2 minute penalty for interference. From there, the rough play on the ice escalated as Jacob Trouba sped in to defend a late hit on Ehlers. The late hit by Salomaki went uncalled. When the dust settled, at 15:41, the Jets’ Trouba, Wheeler, and Ehlers, as well as the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm and Colton Sissons were in the penalty box, putting the Predators on the power play again. Then, at 17:23, the Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien was given a 2 minute minor for interference, giving the home team an 18 second 2 man advantage.
Playing 5 on 3, the Jets were able to keep the puck out the net.
A victory took place for the Jets in that they killed off the 2 man disadvantage, but then another Jets’ player was sent to the box again at 17:46, as Trouba was given 2 minutes for slashing. Also on the play, Tyler Myers gave a sarcastic clap to the referee, earning himself a 10 minute misconduct.
At the end of the second period, the Jets finally got their first power play, as Zac Rinaldo was assessed a 2 minute penalty for cross checking Brian Little. This meant the Jets finally had the opportunity to play on the power play themselves at the start of the third period.
After the Jets put a really good amount of pressure on the Predators’ net while both teams were at even strength, the home team burst into the Jets’ zone on a rush. As a result, Roman Josi put the puck in past Hellebuyck through the five hole at 7:58, putting the home team up by 2.
9:47 saw the Nashville Predators’ Kevin Fiala given a 2 minute penalty for tripping the Jets’ Trouba. However, the Jets could not score on the power play, even with some blistering point shots delivered by Laine and later by defenseman Josh Morrissey. As with the previous pair of goals by the Predators, the third one was an even strength marker, scored at 14:42 by Ryan Johansen.
Pekka Linne manages to snag Josh Morrissey's point shot blast.
At 15:45 the Jets’ Trouba was called for roughing, given 2 minutes in the sin bin as a result. With just over a minute left in the game, the Jets’ Laine got in scrap with the Predators’ Dan Hamhuis, each earning 2 minute penalties for roughing. Ben Chiarot also earned a ten minute misconduct at the same time. Just to round things out for the Jets, at the 20:00 mark of the third, Mark Scheifele was also given a 10 minute misconduct. The physicality of the game seemed like a continuation of where the two teams parted company in May, and chances are pretty high that the intensity will be equal or perhaps even greater the next time the teams meet again.
The next 3 regular season meetings between the Jets and the Predators won’t be until 2019, the next game being played in Nashville on January 17th and the final two being played in Bell MTS Place on March 1st and March 23rd, just before the post season begins. Given the intense physical play less than 2 weeks into the 2018-2019 regular NHL season between these two teams, one can only imagine what 2019 holds between these very bitter rivals.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Jets were not only able to kill all nine of the penalties against the Predators, but also create some extreme offence when short-handed. This seems to be one of their strengths in this early 2018-2019 regular season, chances are very high a few short handed goals will be in their future as most of the forward lines with players like WHEELER, TANEV, and LOWRY using their speed to zip in on net and get in for the closer shots. Also, when playing with the man advantage some of the snipers such as forward LAINE and defenseman MORRISSEY blasted in some red hot blistering shots. In the special teams department, there is a lot of promise, which will work for the Jets in future games.
The Jets’ next action shall be on October 14th against the Carolina Hurricanes, who currently stand at the top of the Metropolitan Division with a 4-0 record. The Jets are at an even .500 record with a 2-2 record.