The Nashville Predators suffered their fifth consecutive loss tonight at the hand of the Winnipeg Jets, failing to overcome a 2-goal deficit. However, the Nashville playstyle that we know and love was present for the entire game and it’s a huge indicator of what’s to come.
First Period – Early tally from Laine brings rough start
With only 18 seconds into the first period passing, a one-timer from Patrik Laine bounced off the pad of Juuse Saros. While a replay of the goal shows how close Juuse was to the save, it’s not the start that any fan would hope for.
Despite the early goal, a ferocious Predators bench was back on the ice tonight, with commanding plays from each and every line. Even in spaces where Winnipeg seemed to have the upper hand, Nashville players were right on their man. It was clear that this team wants a win.
The remainder of the period was rough back and forth plays with penalties from Ekholm to start off the trips to the box. Forsberg and Winnipeg’s Nathan Beaulieu split a roughing call, with interference on Luca Sbisa soon to follow. The Preds were able to end out the period at an advantage, thanks to some slashing by Blake Wheeler towards the end of the stanza.
Second Period – Split goals finish off scoring
Starting ahead, Nashville looked hot right out of the gates. The new combination of Austin Watson and Mathieu Olivier made for a gritty, close to the puck style that shut down a large portion of Winnipeg’s lower lines. Olivier made his debut with the Preds as well, tallying one shot
However, Winnipeg struck again with a goal from Ehlers at 3:47 into the second, bringing the score up to 2-0 in favor of Winnipeg.
The next few minutes of play were a bit slower than has been seen, but great shot attempts, along with great moves from players like Grimaldi and Duchene. Nashville began to dominate the game in terms of puck control and Juuse Saros only seemed to get better as the night went on.
The hard work culminated as a low pass from Grimaldi meet the stick of Nick Bonino. Bones sailed one past Hellebuyck at 18:11 into the second period. A new energy filled the bench moving forward.
Nashville was back in the game.
Third Period – Hellebuyck holds on
With the energy of a recent goal at their backs, Nashville rushed onto the ice ready to get a win. Shot after shot and extremely good-looking entrances into Winnipeg ice.
It seemed as if a majority of the last stanza was spent in the Jet’s zone, and even Saros looked confident in the net, facing ten strong shots. The question to answer was no longer “Is Winnipeg going to score again?” but rather “How are they going to stop Nashville from scoring?”
The answer came in two parts: 1) Rough defensive plays in Winnipeg Ice and 2) Connor Hellebuyck.
The Winnipeg goaltender came out in force tonight, stopping 39 of Nashville’s 40 shot attempts, and shutting down the 16 shots in the third period. This strong third period performance allowed for a Winnipeg to hold on despite Nashville’s tremendous effort.
This game was a reminder of what Nashville hockey is: hard work, great possession, and plenty of shots on net.
This roster is no stranger to fighting for two points, even when there is a strong possibility of not receiving them. Unfortunately, that was the case in this matchup, but what made Nashville look so good anyway?
You can see the depth in this lineup through how they played. I was especially impressed with ability to create space that players like Grimaldi and Duchene have. Each of these players can stop on a dime and know how to handle a puck well, making Nashville dangerous on any line. Even though some of the crowd favorites, like the ever-loved JOFA line were down a -2 on the night, the essence of who these players are began to shine through. Arvidsson especially seemed to be moving quicker than he has been in the previous few games. New additions like Santini and Olivier, who each made their debut in Nashville tonight, even looked to be at home amongst the ranks.
Even though the losing streak has been extended to five games, it’s safe to say a hardworking Nashville is finding a better stride.
Nashville will finish off this home stand against the Vancouver Canucks this Thursday night, November 21st at 7:00 PM. The Canucks are coming off a 6-1 loss to Dallas from Tuesday night.