by Jackson Walsh
Once again, the Nashville Predators and their Central Division foes, the Winnipeg Jets, gave us a classic hockey playoff game in the pearly white Bell MTS Centre. For a series that had given us 25 combined goals entering Thursday night, this matchup had a lot of lulls in scoring, the home team failing to light the lamp for over 59 minutes until they had a two extra man advantage on a power play-empty net situation.
Nevertheless, The Predators prevailed 2-1 to tie the series at two behind Pekka returning to Pekka form, stopping 32 of 33 Winnipeg shots. The lack of Winnipeg goals was a comforting sight to see. The Preds started out defensively strong, keeping Winnipeg’s shot count low and stopping every scoring chance.
Minutes after Pekka Rinne got the knob of his stick over in incredible fashion to stop a scoring chance by Josh Morrissey, the Predators went back down the ice and capitalized off a bouncing loose puck 17:20 into the game to break the scoreless tie and put the Preds up 1-0.
After tightly containing the Jets throughout the second period, the Music City boys would cash in from a Dustin Byfuglien slashing penalty on Mattias Ekholm. P.K. Subban would deliver the blow on the power play, scoring off a laser beam shot through traffic from the blue line to push Nashville to a 2-0 advantage.
Winnipeg just could not get anything to go until the 6 on 4 advantage when who else but Patrik Laine ripped one past Rinne to give life to a silent white out crowd cutting the deficit to 2-1. But that is all the trouble the Jets would give us, and this series is knotted up heading back to Smashville.
It can’t be stressed enough how important this win was for the Preds. To win Game 4 after three games of being hassled endlessly by the Jets, even in Nashville’s 5-4 double overtime win in Game 2, to regain home ice advantage is crucial to have that life blood back.
The one difference was that this was not a 40-50 shot game by the Jets. In the first three games, they poured the shots on Rinne which led to 16 goals. The Predators definitely played tighter and limited scoring chances which did wonders for their game. Also only conceding two penalties as opposed to eight in the last two.
It was a much more disciplined game for our squad. We had a lot to prove after Tuesday’s blunder, and we came out and still proved to everyone why we are on top of the West and that we aren’t going to back down.
Game 5 is up next. Stay tuned.
Photo credit (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press via AP)