The Nashville Predators began a four-game road trip on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
During the first period, the Jets scored at 4:16 when Nikolaj Ehlers (9) put Winnipeg up 1-0. At 16:28, Anthony Peluso was called for kneeing Paul Gaustad, so the Preds went on the power-play. Only 11 seconds into the man-advantage, Ryan Johansen continued his hot streak to end the first period 1-1.
The second period had lots of back-and-forth action between both squads. Nashville was able to get a score at 5:04 when Craig Smith snapped a shot past Conner Hellebuyck. The Preds ended the period up 2-1.
The final period of play was dominated by the Predators with two goals, both were in the last two minutes of the period. The first goal was a James Neal snapshot off of a Ryan Johansen face-off win at 18:08.
The Preds closed the game with an empty net goal by Calle Jarnkrok (7) at 18:33 to give Nashville a 4-1 win.
Tonight, the Preds will continue their swing through Western Canada to take on the Edmonton Oilers.
Keys to Watch
Oilers Struggle in Net
The Edmonton Oilers have traditionally been a team that drafts offensive-minded players and their defense has been put at peril. Struggles have been obvious in year’s past and this season has been no different. They have given up third most goals this season with 144 goals. The Oilers are ranked fifth in the NHL in goals-against per game average 2.94 goals per game. They have lost six out of the last eight and could be on a crash course to the number one overall pick once again. There’s no consistency in net with 28 games started by Cam Talbot and 24 games started by Anders Nilsson. The Nashville offense should be able to put up big offensive numbers tonight.
The Impact of Johansen
Since the trade for Ryan Johansen, the Nashville Predators were looking to see what impact he would make over the duration of the season. Since he has been in Nashville, Johansen has three goals, six assists, and nine total points. The Preds have seen their face-off percentage increase to 49.1% and has become a dangerous threat on the power-play with two of his goals coming with a man-advantage. He is truly the Preds number one center and is producing that way.
All of the buzz recently has been the negative play of Pekka Rinne. Rinne was superb against the Jets on Thursday night stopping 26 out of 27 shots, and the only goal was an even-strength goal. The Preds need Rinne to be this good for the remainder of the season. Rinne hasn’t achieved back-to-back wins since December 19th (Minnesota) and 21st (Montreal). He has yet to win back-to-back road games all season. His confidence seems to be back, but let’s be cautious.
The Nashville Predators will have a chance to continue their momentum tonight against the struggling Edmonton Oilers. Be sure to check out all of the action on Fox Sports-Tennessee or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. It will be a late start as the puck drops at 9:00 pm!
Stay up late with the Preds!