Fiala and JOFA Clutch!
by Taylor Parks
After dominating game one and still walking away with a loss, the Nashville Predators looked to even the series at Bridgestone Arena against the Winnipeg Jets. Thankfully for the Predators, forward Austin Watson would return to action after leaving game one with an injury and forward Ryan Hartman would see his first action of the series and Nashville looked to figure out a way to beat Connor Hellebuyck.
It didn’t take long.
Just 27 seconds in, Ryan Johansen tallied first for the boys in gold off a fantastic “jump screen” from Viktor Arvidsson. The Predators would continue their strong play for most of the first period until a string of undisciplined plays caused teams to skate 4 on 4. Dustin Byfuglien would score first for the Jets at 12:47 and they would take the lead just 29 seconds later on a power play goal from Mark Scheifele. After playing another great period, the Nashville Predators would find themselves down again at the end of the first.
The second period would be dominated by the Nashville Predators and some of their biggest stars. Pekka played his best period of the entire series, making some key saves that kept the Predators within one. At 5:04, PK Subban would score his first of the playoffs to tie the game back up at one. The play was made with some great puck movement, creative motion, and another great “jump” screen by Arvidsson. Speaking of Arvidsson, he would retake the lead for Nashville at 18:41 off a great snipe. This is when the game would really get chippy, as the Predators would take a 3-2 lead into the intermission.
The third period would be one that would show off some fantastic speed and skill from both teams. Winnipeg forward Brandon Tanev scored his second of the series to tie the game at 3 each. Nashville and the JOFA line would not go down lightly, as Ryan Johansen would light the lamp off another great feed from Viktor Arvidsson. Johansen would not just score, he would supply Bridgestone arena a spark after a highlight goal finish to retake the lead just 34 seconds after Tanev’s goal. Winnipeg sent relentless pressure down the stretch and the Jets would score the game tying goal with 1.05 remaining. Neither team could add to the dramatics as the game would go to overtime.
During the first ovetimer, neither team could break through despite numerous chances. The second OT period was a different story.
Kevin Fiala was once again the hero. After an incredible play by Kyle Turris, Kevin “FiFi” Fiala put home the game winner and kept the series within reach. The series is tied 1-1 and heads to Winnipeg.
What We Learned
Nashville Plays Strong…Again.
If not for some absolutely stellar play by Connor Hellebuyck, the Nashville Predators could have complete control of this series. There are a lot of good things to take away from the first 2 games, but Nashville quickly saw it’s home-ice advantage disappear. The very tall task of taking a game on the road against Winnipeg remains, but good things will happen if they continue to play like they are.
Pekka…Where Art Thou?
The Vezina Pekka of the regular season has just not showed up in this Stanley Cup Playoff and it just might hurt them. Not to be overly critical, but he has been the worst Predator on the ice. We can only hope that a flight to Winnipeg is the cure he needs.
JOFA IS BACK
It’s been awhile (some could argue an entire year) since we have seen the JOFA line absolutely dominate a team like the had tonight. Ryan Johansen was worth every penny of his big contract, Viktor Arvidsson had a hand in every single goal, and Filip Forsberg continues his strong play during these playoffs. If this line plays like this, there is not a line in all of hockey that can shut them down. One great game from JOFA was awesome, but may we have another?
Dear Kevin Fiala
I love you.