Key Matchup-

Ryan Getzlaf and Shea Weber will face each other in this matchup. The two played together on Team Canada’s 2016 World Cup team. Weber may be considered an elite defenseman, but he is one of the league’s worst shot suppressors. He can produce offensively though. Getzlaf has well deserved elite status, and plays a solid game and when he is put on the same line as Corey Perry he is hard to stop.

Nashville Predators-

Winning Formula: 

One of the Predators greatest assets is the depth of its blueline. Together Shea Weber and Roman Josi are fantastic and Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis have continued to excel over the last season. Filip Forsberg has made a name for himself as the team’s sniper and is likely to continue to produce. Nashville is one of the league’s top possession teams and Mike Fisher to James Neal have a lot to do with that as they play a gritty offensive game.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  

Pekka Rinne has not been playing his strongest game posting one of the worst save percentages than any other goalie in the league holding a starting position. Rinne improved after the second half of the season, but still is not at the top of his game.

The first line as a whole doesn’t produce enough offense for the Predators and the team leans too heavily on young less experienced players like Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, Viktor Arvidsson, and Miikka Salomaki.

Anaheim Ducks –

Winning Formula:

Ryan Kesler adds experience, skill, and an advantage in the faceoff circle, and will be an asset during this playoff run especially if they progress to later series. When Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are put on the same line they are a dynamic duo and can easily manipulate play and produce offense. The Ducks have one of the most productive power plays in the league and some credit is due to the pair. David Perron and Rickard Rakell have played their part on the team adding offense and distracting opposing teams from Perry and Getzlaf. The Ducks play a heavy game and have a mobile blueline full of playmakers such as Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Hampus Lindholm.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

Anaheim had a terrible start to the season, but fought their way to the playoffs. They are hoping that other players will distract from Getzlaf and Perry to allow them to be effective. In the past playoffs opposing teams have tried to neutralize the duo early on and it has been a strategy that has had an effect on knocking the team out. John Gibson and Frederik Andersen will need to minimize mistakes and step up to keep the Ducks alive.

Prediction: Ducks in 6

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  • The Flyers beat the Bruins 5-4. Claude Giroux scored his second power-play goal of the game at 2:09 of overtime to give Philly the win. Giroux one-timed a shot past Tuukka Rask from the left circle with Ryan Spooner off for hooking. Philadelphia overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period. Giroux cut it to 4-3 at 7:48, and Wayne Simmonds tied it at 9:36. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Sam Gagner also scored for the Flyers. Chris Kelly, Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, and Patrice Bergeron scored for Boston.
  • Sabres beat the Maple Leafs in a shootout, 2-1. Evander Kanetied it with 4:29 left with his first goal for Buffalo, and Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout to beat Toronto. Kane pushed a wrist shot past goalie Jonathan Bernier. Chad Johnson made 23 saves to help Buffalo improve to 2-4. P.A. Parenteau scored for Toronto, and Bernier made 34 saves.
  • Jason Spezzascored his fifth goal of the season as the Stars beat the Penguins 4-1. Johnny Oduya and John Klinberg scored their first goals of the season and Mattias Janmark got his third. Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots. Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh.
  • The Rangers beat the Coyotes 4-1. Kevin Hayesbroke a tie early in the third period. Chris Kreider, former Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and Rick Nash also scored for New York. Nash’s goal was his 700th career point. Mats Zuccarello added two assists. Henrik Lundqvist contributed with 34 saves. Klas Dahlbeck scored for Arizona.
  • Thomas Vanekbroke a tie in the second period and the Minnesota to beat Columbus 3-2. Zach Parise scored 5:04 in. After Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Dubinsky countered for Columbus, Nino Niederreiter tied it, and Vanek scored the winner with 8:48 left in the second. Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves; while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the Blue Jackets.
  • Blackhawks beat the Panthers 3-2. Patrick Kaneand Brent Seabrook each had a goal and two assists. Artem Anisimov also scored for the Stanley Cup champions, and Corey Crawford made 16 saves. Jaromir Jagr and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida.
  • The Capitals beat the Canucks 3-2 when Alex Ovechkinbroke a tie with 4:55 left. Jay Beagle pulled Washington even at 5:42 of the third, and Ovechkin won it with his fifth goal of the season. Jason Chimera scored in the first for the Capitals, but Radim Vrbata and Henrik Sedin each had a goal and an assist in the second for Vancouver. Braden Holtby made 23 saves for Washington.store2
  • The Devils beat the Senators 5-4 in a shootout. Lee Stempniaktied it with 32 seconds left in regulation, and then contributed the winning goal in the shootout. Adam Henrique pulled New Jersey within a goal with 5:50 to go. Travis Zajac and Jordin Tootoo also scored, and Cory Schneider made 35 saves for the Devils. Chris Neil and Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Mika Zibanejad scored for Ottawa. Andrew Hammond made 28 saves.
  • The Predators beat the Ducks 5-1. Colin Wilsonand Ryan Ellis each had a goal and two assists while Mattias Ekholm and Mike Ribeiro each had a goal and an assist, Eric Nystrom also scored. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Preds. Jiri Sekac had the only Anaheim goal.
  • The Canadiens beat the Sabres 7-2. The Habs Andrei Markovcontributed a goal and four assists. Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise each scored twice, and Max Pacioretty and Torrey Mitchell also scored. Mike Condon made 34 saves, and K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec each had three assists. Matt Moulson and Ryan O’Reilly scored for Buffalo, and Cody Franson had two assists.
  • The Bruins beat the Islanders 5-3. David Pastrnakbroke a tie late in the second period. Brett Connolly, Joonas Kemppainen and Ryan Spooner also scored for Boston. Jonas Gustavsson, started in place of Tuukka Rask, and finished with 23 saves. David Krejci had an empty-netter with 2:25 remaining. Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas and Thomas Hickey scored for the Islanders.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsovhad three goals and two assists to help Washington beat Edmonton 7-4. Kuznetsov opened the scoring on a backhander at 3:05 of the first period, gave Washington a 4-3 lead with another backhander at 6:17 of the second, and completed his first career hat trick with a snap shot on a power play with 3:01 left in the third period. Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams also scored for Washington, and Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves. Rookie star Connor McDavid scored his fifth goal of the season for Edmonton. Benoit Pouliot, Rob Klinkhammer and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored.
  • The Flames beat the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime. Mark Giordanoscored his second goal of the game in overtime. Joe Colborne tied it for the Flames with 1:12 left in the third period. Giordano scored 3:12 into overtime. Jonas Hiller contributed 27 saves for the Flames. Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith scored first-period power-play goals for the Red Wings.
  • The Lightning beat the Jets 4-3 in overtime. Ondrej Palatscored 36 seconds into overtime scoring off a 3-on-1 rush, converting a tap in after a tic-tac-toe play with Steven Stamkos. Victor Hedman. Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov also scored, and Ben Bishop made 33 saves. Nikolaj Ehlers, Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets.
  • Rangers beat the Flames 4-1. Dan Girardiput New York ahead 2-1 with 3:03 left in the second. Girardi was recently demoted to the third defense pairing with Keith Yandle, he snuck down to the right circle and snapped a rebound of Emerson Etem’s shot past Jonas Hiller.. Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Klein and Derick Brassard also contributed goals. Antti Raanta made 22 saves. Jiri Hudler scored the Flames’ only goal.
  • The Jets won 5-4 against the Wild. Drew Staffordscored twice and Blake Wheeler had two assists. Minnesota’s Jason Zucker scored 10 seconds into the game, but then Winnipeg got five consecutive goals. Bryan Little tied it 1:22 into the first, Andrew Ladd scored about 2 minutes later and Nikolaj Ehlersmade it 3-1 Jets (5-2-1) midway through the period. Stafford scored 51 seconds into the second, chasing Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper. Stafford scored again on Devan Dubnyk just under 4 minutes later. Wheeler extended his season-opening point streak to a franchise-record eight games. Michael Hutchinson made 26 saves for Winnipeg. Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine and Zach Parise also scored for Minnesota.
  • The Kings beat the Oilers 3-2. Tanner Pearsonbroke a tie late in the third period with his first goal since breaking his leg last season. Pearson’s power-play goal put the Kings ahead with 3:26 left. He found the rebound from Jake Muzzin’s shot and slapped it past goalie Cam Talbot. Connor McDavid nearly tied it for Edmonton with 5.2 seconds left, but Jonathan Quick sprawled to catch his backhander right at the goal line. A replay review upheld the no-goal call. Taylor Hall tied it for Edmonton on the power play. Hall redirected a pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for his third of the season, and Pearson scored than 3 minutes later. Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter also scored for the Kings. Drew Doughty had two assists. Benoit Pouliot scored in the first period with the help of McDavid.

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  • Steven Stamkos scored his 500th career point with a tiebreaking power-play goal that sent theTampa Bay Lightning to a 6-3 win over the Bruins on Monday afternoon. It was Tampa Bay’s first win in Boston since March 25, 2010. In that same game Loui Eriksson had two power-play goals, and David Krejci also had one for Boston, which opened a season with three straight losses for the first time since 1999.
  • When the Jets met the Islanders John Tavareshad a power-play goal and added two assists, Thomas Greiss made 22 saves and the Islanders got their first win of the season and the first in their new Brooklyn home. The score was 4-2.
  • On Tuesday Tomas Fleischmannfinished an odd-man rush with his first goal of the season early in the third period and the Canadiens beat the Penguins 3-2. Fleischmann scored off a feed from David Desharnais to help Montreal wrap up its season-opening trip at 4-0-0 and drop Pittsburgh to 0-3-0. Max Pacioretty scored twice for the Canadiens, and Carey Price finished with 31 saves. Beau Bennett and Kris Letang scored for Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel had up an assist in his home debut with the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots for the Penguins.
  • The Stars Jason Spezza scored three goals and leading to a 4-2 victory over the Oilers. Edmonton’s golden boy, Connor McDavid scored his first NHL goal in the 2nd evening the score to 2-2. The Stars had 52 shots, their most since Feb. 3, 1990, in a 7-6 loss to Philadelphia. Spezza finished off the hat trick with an empty-net goal. Anders Nilssonmade 48 saves in his first appearance for Edmonton.
  • Against the Capitals Martin Jonesmade 31 saves for his second straight shutout of the season. Matt Nieto, and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist, and Joe Thornton, Mike Brown and Tomas Hertl added goals tallying 5 goals altogether for the Sharks.
  • Against the Devils Roman Josihad a power-play goal in the first period and added a short-handed empty netter in the third. Eric Nystrom also had an empty-net goal for the Predators, off to their best start since 2010-11. Pekka Rinne made 22 saves.
  • Jaromir Jagrassisted on Barkov’s goal for his 1,809th career point and the Panthers beat the Hurricanes 4-1.
  • Jets beat the Rangers 4-1. Brian Little scored twice, Nikolaj Ehlersand Mark Stuart also added to the Jets tally, and Michael Hutchinson made 40 saves.
  • Gustav Nyquistand Kyle Quincey scored and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist for Detroit in their 3-1 win against Tampa Bay.
  • Blue beat Flames 4-3. Colton Paraykoscored his first two NHL goals. The defenseman broke a 2-2 tie on a power play at 4:47 of the second period on a 55-foot wrist shot and scored again with 32 seconds left in the second on another long shot. Troy Brouwer and Scottie Upshall also scored for the Blues. Mason Raymond, Jiri Hudler and David Jones scored for Calgary.
  • Michal Neuvirthstopped 30 shots in his second straight shutout, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Sam Gagner, Claude Giroux and Matt Read scored to lead the Flyers to their 12th straight regular-season home victory over Chicago. The Flyers have not lost to the Blackhawks in Philly during the regular season since Nov. 9, 1996.
  • Senators beat the Blue Jackets 7-3. Bobby Ryanand Mika Zibanejad each had a goal and two assists, Erik Karlsson added a career-high four assists, and Ottawa improved to 3-0-0 on the road for the first time since the start of the 2007-08 season. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist, and Marc Methot, Milan Michalek, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman also scored for the Senators. Ryan Stone had two assists and Craig Anderson made 37 saves. Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus and Ryan Johansen had two assists. The Blue Jackets have dropped their first four games in regulation for the first time in the franchise’s 15-year history.
  • Coyotes beat the Ducks 4-0. Anthony Duclairscored the game’s first two goals en route to his first career hat trick and Mike Smith made 37 saves for his 28th career shutout. Rookie Max Domi had a goal and an assist and Martin Hanzal had three assists.
  • Bruins beat the Avalanche 6-2 avoided its worst start in more than 50 years. Kevan Millerand Jimmy Hayes scored 2:22 apart in the first period, with Tyler Randell, Chris Kelly and Ryan Spooner scoring in the second. Spooner’s goal with 4:28 remaining in the second ended a rough evening for Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 14 of 19 shots before being relieved by Reto Berra. David Krejci added an empty-net goal with 1:29 left. Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell added goals for Colorado.
  • Evgeni Malkinscored his first goal in nearly seven months and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots for his 39th career shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 2-0 on Thursday night. Daniel Sprong picked up the first goal of his career.
  • Islanders beat the Predators 4-3. John Tavaresand Nikolay Kulemin scored in the third period giving Nashville its first loss of the season. Anders Lee and Kyle Okposo scored in the second period to tie the score for the Islanders after they fell behind by two, and Thomas Greiss finished with 44 saves. Tavares and Lee also had an assist and Mikhail Grabovski added two. Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg and James Neal scored for the Predators, who had opened the season 3-0-0. Pekka Rinne had 24 saves.
  • Capitals beat the Blackhawks 4-1. Braden Holtbystopped 26 shots, Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in his return to the Washington lineup. John Carlson, J. Oshie and Matt Niskanen also scored for the Capitals.
  • Stars beat the Lightning 5-3 with goals from Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin,Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin and Jason Demers. Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for the Lightning.
  • Panthers beat the Sabres 3-2.  Jaromir Jagrscored twice in the first period and Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist.  Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for his 403rd career victory, tying him with Grant Fuhr for ninth in all-time wins.
  • Carey Pricemade 25 saves, getting a shutout, and the Canadiens made franchise history by starting a season with a fifth straight win. Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise and Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal.
  • Blues beat the Oliers 4-2. Paul Stastnyand Alexander Steen scored in the third period. Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for the Blues, who beat Edmonton for the eighth straight time. Stastny, Steen and Lehtera also each had an assist, and Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots. Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Hall scored for the Oilers, and Cam Talbot had 25 saves.
  • Joe Pavelskiand Brent Burns scored in a shootout to lift the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. Martin Jones stopped 31 shots. Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks in the opening minute and the goal stood until Adam Henrique ended Jones’ shutout bid with a tying power-play goal. Henrique scored for New Jersey on its first shootout attempt, but Jacob Josefson was stopped on the second and Mike Cammalleri missed the net on the third.
  • Leo Komarovscored two late goals and Toronto beat Columbus to give Mike Babcock his first victory as coach of the Maple Leafs with a score of 6-3. Joffrey Lupul had a goal and an assist, and Jake Gardiner, James van Riemsdyk, and Nazem Kadri also scored to help Toronto. Daniel Winnik added three assists, Morgan Rielly had two, and James Reimer finished with 24 saves. Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist to reach 600 career points, and Boone Jenner and Nick Folignoalso scored for Columbus.
  • Lee Stempniakscored at 3:07 of overtime and the New Jersey Devils finally gave new coach John Hynes a victory with a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday. Adam Henrique, who scored early in the second period, made the cross-ice pass that Stempniak fired past his former teammate Henrik Lundqvist to end the 3-on-3 overtime. Cory Schneider finished with 26 saves for New Jersey. Lundqvist stopped 22 shots.
  • Blues beat the Jets 4-2. Vladimir Tarasenkoscored twice and Brian Elliott made 26 saves. Tarasenko gave the Blues a 3-2 lead on a delayed penalty midway through the third period, firing a shot past goalie Ondrej Pavelec and into the corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season. Scottie Upshall and Carl Gunnarsson also scored for St. Louis. Nikolaj Ehlers and Mathieu Perreault scored for Winnipeg.
  • Tyler Toffoliscored on a breakaway late in the second period to help Los Angeles beat Colorado 2-1. Marian Gaborik also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves. Matt Duchene  gave Colorado their only point.
  • Ducks won 4- 1 against the Wild. Anton Khudobinhad 34 saves.  Cam Fowler, Rickard Rakell, and Mike Santorelli all contributed goals.
  • The Oilers beat the Canucks 2-1 in overtime whenLauri Korpikoski scored on a breakaway. Nail Yakupov scored in regulation and Anders Nilsson stopped 33 shots to benefit the Oilers. Matt Bartkowski scored for the Canucks and Ryan Miller finished with 22 saves.

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Head-to-Head Season Stats
Stats
Predators
Blackhawks
Record

1-1-2

3-1-0

Goals

9

11

Shot Attempts

179

182

 

Season Stats
 
Predators
Blackhawks
Rank
Stats
Rank
Stats
Shot Attempts For/60

2

58.1 4

58.0

Shot Attempts Against/60

14

51.4 7

49.9

Shot Attempt %

8

53.1 4

53.7

Goals For/60

5

2.51 17

2.25

Goals Against/60

4

1.91 6

1.93

Goal %

1

56.9 8

53.8

Shooting %

8

8.1 28

6.8

Save %

4

93.1 2

93.5

Powerplay

25

16.2 20

17.6

Penalty Kill

18

80.8 10

83.4

 

Key Matchup-

Duncan Keith vs. Shea Weber: Two of Canada’s best defensemen are going head-to-head and they are evenly matched. Since Ryan Suter left Nashville, Weber’s numbers haven’t been as good as they were; though he still looks good on the ice. Weber has a higher relative goal rate meaning he may have some effect on the quality of chances, but Nashville generally controls the puck more when Weber is on the bench. He also allows almost six more shot attempts than Keith per hour.

Nashville Predators-

Winning Formula: Peter Laviolette transformed Nashville from a counterstrike team into an attacking team. The result was the Predators best goal production in four years. Rookie Filip Forsberg has the makings of a future superstar. Their offense is a team effort and doesn’t rely on one player to get things done. This new style of play has made Nashville a better possession team, giving them more opportunities, and keeping the other team from scoring chances. Goalie Pekka Rinne bounced back from his 2013-14 hip problems and has had a great year. Rinne’s 6’5” size, agility; unreal glove hand, puck handling abilities, skill at controlling the rebound, demeanor, and general ability to intimidate a shooter all plays a part in why he is phenomenal when he is healthy.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  Nashville’s first line is evolving and provides something closer to second-line production, especially factoring in how much they’ve regressed in the second half of the season. Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro averaged about a point per game in the first half of the season, but have since cooled. James Neal, although a skilled power forward, isn’t producing the way he used to for the Penguins. Their blueline is amazing, but the team relies on them to score too much and it takes away from what they are there to do. Rinne has been dealing with knee problems the past couple months, and he hasn’t shouldered a playoff workload since 2012. His second half numbers, while good, have slipped in the second half of the season.

Chicago Blackhawks-

Winning Formula: If experience counts then this team is golden as the majority of their 2013 Stanley Cup roster is intact. They have resolve and thrive under pressure. They are strong defensively. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook push play toward the other team’s net. Chicago has tremendous depth and scores consistently at even strength, and this team hits hard.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  Patrick Kane is expected to return for the first round a few weeks earlier than expected. He was out with a broken collarbone. If he is fully healed and not feeling the effects of his injury he will be a great asset to the Blackhawks as he is elite on all levels offensively. The power play has suffered in his absence too. Toews has been heavily leaned on to score and even with Kane set to return, there is no telling if he is healthy enough to help the team. Thoughout the season, goaltender Corey Crawford only had to be good, not great. He will have to be great to win in the playoffs.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn – The Jets were still buzzing as they had just made one of the biggest trades in the NHL as they sent injured and disgruntled winger Evander Kane and defenceman Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Drew Stafford and defenceman Tyler Myers along with prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and a first round pick in this year’s draft. This was a massive deal for both clubs. The Jets new players Myers and Stafford were in the lineup tonight as they met their new teammates in Nashville for a big Central Division clash. The Jets threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Predators net but ended up on the losing end by a 3-1 margin.

“We knew that they were going to play hard,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’re in a position where they’re fighting, and they’re trying to make the most of everything that’s available to them. Those are good games for us to get into. The division games always seem to be a little bit tougher. Our games with Winnipeg have been the same, as well as tonight. Hard fought.”

Nashville is the first team to 80 points and sit in top spot overall in the West as well as the NHL. The Jets are now in a dog fight for the final two spots as they still hold down the first wild card position.

Pekka Rinne was in the pipes for the Predators and he has never lost to the Jets and is a perfect 7-0 against them. He stood on his head stopping 32 shots out of 33 total shots. He made a couple of beauties off Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. He also got some help from his posts as the Jets hit three bars tonight. He was named the game’s first star.

“I thought that tonight was as hard of a game as we’ve had this year,” Rinne said. “It was a tight, even matchup, and both teams had some chances. Just a solid hockey game.”

Ondrej Pavelec was in net for the Jets and he made 23 saves off 26 Nashville shots. He wasn’t quite as busy but did make a couple great stops including one off Colin Wilson that will be on Sports Centre top ten for sure.

This was a really fast skating game not a lot of hits but they were all very hard hits. Nashville is a fast transition team and they had the Jets on their heels early before the Jets got things figured out and reversed the game and took it to the Preds. If not for some stellar goaltending the Jets could have easily won this game.

Special teams were a factor as both teams had their chances on the power play with Nashville going 2-6 and Winnipeg going 1-5 including a minute and a half two man advantage.

Winnipeg got its lone goal off the stick of Michael Frolik who tipped a Dustin Byfuglien shot for his 11th of the season.

Nashville got goals from Shea Weber his 13th , Filip Forsberg his 19th , James Neal his 19th.

“It was pretty open to be honest,” Forsberg said. “[Nashville defenseman Roman Josi] kind of pulled the whole PK over to one side and just gave it to me, so I had all the time in the world basically just to pick my corner. I got a really good screen from [forward James Neal] and also from their D-man so it was a pretty easy goal to score.”

Winnipeg will head to Detroit for a Saturday night show down against the Red Wings.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn – The Jets continued their five-game road trip with a stop in Music City for a showdown with the Central Division leading Nashville Predators and a chance to tie the Preds for first place in the division. This was a tight checking affair where one mistake was the key as the Predators came away with a 2-1 victory.

“I was happy to see the way we came out and played defensively, and we kept pushing,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after earning his 400th NHL victory. “Even when the game is tied late, you still want to keep throwing attempts at the net and throwing shots at the net, and it was great that Craig was able to capitalize.”

With not a lot of shots in this game, goalies had to be sharp and as the game went on a few good chances were created and Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was sharp although not too busy he stopped 22 to get the victory.

“There weren’t a lot of attempts at either net,” Laviolette said. “There was no room through the neutral zone either way, and we knew what type of hockey they were playing just based on their record and watching them in pre-scout, having played them recently.”

Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec was sharp as well but couldn’t track the puck on the winner and probably wants the first goal back but through all this he still stopped 27 Nashville shots and gave his team a chance at getting the win.

The first twenty minutes of this game there were a lot of whistles and both teams were just keen on getting the puck out of their own ends even if it meant icing the puck as there wasn’t much flow or chances. Both teams are low scoring good defensive clubs this year so this was expected.

Chances came but they were far and few between as this was a neutral zone battle with not a lot of end-to-end play but a lot of dump and guard your zone. The teams did open it up on occasion as the Jets had a few great looks at the net including Evander Kane who continues to be snakebit as he rang a glorious chance off the bar.

It came down to who would make the first mistake. The Predators had a goal disallowed after it was ruled the puck was knocked down with a high stick of James Neal before Mike Riberio put it in the net.

“We knew what we were getting into tonight,” Neal said. “In the neutral zone, there wasn’t much room and we were trying to put pucks behind them and get there, but with hold-ups and not-good-enough dumps, we were finding it tough. I think that was both ways. We’re going to find ourselves in those games throughout the year. I like the way we responded in the third and came out and did a job.”

Winnipeg got its lone goal on a turnover on a Predators power play by Matt Cullen and Blake Wheeler broke in and snapped a bullet top corner for his 8th of the season.

Nashville got goals from James Neal who ripped a bomb past Pavelec for his 9th and later Craig Smith snapped home a loose puck for the winner his 6th of the season.

“It was a tight game, just like we thought it would be,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “It was the game we expected. Tough to give them a goal late. We’ve been really solid and really strong there. I thought in the third period we were better in a lot of areas and had some good chances there, but there just weren’t a whole lot to go around in that game.”

The Jets will look back at this one as one that got away as they had chances to clear the puck out on the winner and also they didn’t get one power play chance in this game which is rare in today’s game.

Winnipeg will head to Minnesota to play the Wild on Sunday in another big divisional game.

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