Following the Nashville Predators three-game sweep on their road trip to Canada, where they outscored the opposition 13-1 with back-to-back shutouts from Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne, the Predators had a “come back down to earth” moment Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Holding a 2-1 lead at the first intermission on goals from Calle Jarnkrok and Kevin Fiala, Nashville seemed to have picked up where it left off in Calgary. P.K. Subban and Yannick Weber added a goal each in the second and third periods respectively. However, the Preds surrendered three second-period goals and two more in the third, losing 6-4 to the Winnipeg Jets, who now sit just one point behind the Preds in the Central.
“They’re a good team,” Preds captain Roman Josi said. “I thought we just played ok tonight, especially the first two periods. Against a good team like that – it’s just not enough. I thought we played pretty well in the third, we had a lot of chances.
“Going into the game, you always want to play well defensively. We gave them too many rushes, especially in the second period. We knew we had to make a push. We know how to play – they have a lot of good forwards with a lot of speed so you have to make sure you keep them in front of you.”
“We just didn’t play our game for the first 40 minutes,” defenseman Yannick Weber added. “We didn’t get much offensive zone time – they had way more than us. We couldn’t really get a forecheck going and that’s one of the staples of our game. So, if you can’t get a forecheck going, and don’t get enough offensive zone time, it’s tough to beat a team like this. We turned it on in the third period a bit and we showed some character, but I don’t think we would have deserved that one.”
Things have been looking too easy for Nashville lately. Both goalies, Rinne and Saros, have been dominant. The offense has been averaging 4 goals per game, while the defense has held opposing teams to just 2.58 goals per game.
The loss may serve as a blessing in disguise for the Preds, who have gone 13-2-2 since the acquisition of Kyle Turris.
“We have to look ourselves in the mirror,” forward Filip Forsberg said. “No team is good enough to only play one period in this League and win. One of the best teams, Winnipeg, they’re good. The third period was good, but the two others could’ve been better.”
In the scheme of things, this loss likely won’t do much to hurt the Preds playoff aspirations. However, it may have served as a great reminder not to rest on their laurels.
“I think every time you lose – there are so many good teams in this League – and like I said before, in the first two periods, we just played ok,” Josi said. “I didn’t think it was bad, but we didn’t play well enough against a team like Winnipeg. I think against every team, you have to bring your best.”
“I think we have to play better,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I said it this morning and I’ve said it to the players, that our expectation is to play better than what we have in the past couple of games and I think we are capable of that.
“In the first two periods, and again probably the same thing tonight, I think we are capable of playing at a different pace with better execution and more of an identity than we did. So, there’s room for improvement there.”