Game 2 was exactly what we were all expecting out of Predators vs. Jets: scoring, up and down action, some big saves, and a lot of cold sweating. It was one of the best games of the postseason so far, but more importantly the Preds prevailed to even the series.

The Good

-Before we get into the game itself, we have to give proper respect to the First Lady of the Nashville Predators. Carrie crushed another national anthem. Just have her sing it at every game. Who complains?

-Then, the offensive line was back to their shenanigans from last year. However, the upped the ante. This time it was Taylor Lewan chugging some brews out of a deceased catfish. I love catfish and I love beer. Would I like that? I dunno, but I’d like to give it a shot. Meanwhile, Mariota is sitting there internally shaking his head at this madness. Live a little, Marc.

-As for the game itself, I thought the Predators made the necessary offensive tweaks from Game 1 in order to solve Connor Hellebuyck. Namely, they got a little more traffic in front. Well, that and the dam just broke. Nashville had 43 scoring chances and 16 high-danger scoring chances in four-plus periods of hockey. That was better than the Jets in both categories (33 and 11, respectively).

Credit: Natural Stat Trick

-The Game 1 shot locations were good. but these shot locations are great. There are a few less point shots and a few more shot slots. Just what they needed to do. Simply put, Game 1 was The Mighty Ducks and Game 2 was D2: The Mighty Ducks.

-By continuing that effort from Game 1 while making some minor adjustments, Nashville was able to get the results. On the Preds’ first goal, P.K. Subban pinched in the offensive zone to get the puck to Filip Forsberg. With half the Jets already exiting the zone, Fil, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson had the Winnipeg defenders at their mercy. Forsberg slid a pass over to Johansen while Viktor Arvidsson provided a screen in front. Joey Mullets had all day to pick his spot, so he placed a perfect shot over the shoulder of Hellebuyck and in to give the Preds a 1-0 lead just seconds into the game.

-In the second period, the Predators needed a quality power play to get the game tied and they got it. It was Forsberg as the distributor yet again. He slowly made his way to the Winnipeg net and drew in defenders. He then kicked a pass up to Subban on the point. Subban vaporized a shot by Hellebuyck with Arvidsson providing the screen in front of that ICBM like a crazy person.

-Later in the second, a subtle chip pass by Forsberg to Arvidsson sprung that whirling dervish on a 2-on-1. Instead of passing. Arvi wound up and broke the sound barrier on a slap shot that was by Hellebuyck before he knew it.

-The JOFA line finished their reign of terror on the the Jets with their best of the night. Arvi found Johansen streaking up ice. Joey Mullets put Toby Enstrom in a blender by acting like he was going inside before turning on the jets, going outside, and blowing by him. Mullets finished with a perfect bar down shot right where mama keeps the peanut butter. What a play by MY No. 1 center.

-When I said reign of terror, I wasn’t exaggerating about the JOFA line. They were excellent all night long. They combined for eight points and at least two of them had a hand in each of Nashville’s four regulation goals. Forsberg had three assists. Arvidsson had a goal and two assists. Johansen had two goals (slacker). They were the engine that drove the Nashville Predators, and that’s what you need out of your top players in the playoffs.

-Another point I need to make before getting into the game-winner is that Nashville utterly dominated overtime play. In the roughly 25 minutes of overtime, the Predators smoked the Jets in nearly every category. Most notably, scoring chances were 21-7 in favor of the Preds and high-danger scoring chances were 7-1 in favor of the Preds. It was an impressive showing from a team that had far more overtime experience.

-We’ve finally arrived at this silky smooth game-winning goal. A phenomenal play by Kyle Turris at center ice got it started. He simply outworked a pair of Jets along the boards and chipped a perfect pass to Craig Smith for a 2-on-1. Smitty floated a pass across to Kevin Fiala and he used patience to get Hellebuyck out of position and end the game.

-Plenty of people, myself included, have been hard on this second line in the playoffs. Honestly, there’s plenty of reason for that. They just haven’t been effective. That said, in Game 2 they were like that superhero in a movie who waits until the absolute last second to appear and save the day. They were Batman in the Dark Knight Rises. They took a stupid amount of time doing something pointless like pouring fuel on a bridge in the shape of a bat but swooped in to save the day by the end. Hopefully this goal can spark them because I miss all three of them dearly.

-Before I get to The Bad, I must point out that Ryan Ellis is a tough son of a bitch. The guy nearly loses an eye Thor-style (sorry, I recently saw Avengers and have the MCU on the brain) and comes right back with 12 stitches. I’m not sure if he’s tough, stupid, or both but damn I love it.

The Bad

-The latter half of the third period was maddening. Of all the things you do not want to do with a one-goal lead against the Jets, taking your foot off the gas pedal and sitting back is probably second only to pulling your goalie. But, that’s what the Predators did.

Credit: Natural Stat Trick

-Wow…..

-It’s impossible to turtle any more than that. Holy shit. Just give them a power play if that’s how you want to play. In the third period, the Jets had 15 more shot attempts than the Preds, 7 more scoring chances, and two more high-danger chances. Spoiler: It would burn the Predators, but let’s jump into this goal by goal.

-The first Jets goal was on Pekka Rinne. I hate to blame my main man, but as Brian Boucher pointed out on the broadcast, the goalie probably just wants the defender to take away the dish to the front of the net. Josi does, but Dustin Byfuglien just slips a weak shot under Rinne to tie the game at 1.

-Seconds later, the Jets struck again on the power play to take the lead. A Patrik Laine shot caromed off the boards, Rinne couldn’t locate it, and two Jets were left unchecked. Subban couldn’t get to Paul Stastny in time and he got a quick pass out to Mark Scheifele in the slot. It was an easy goal as Rinne still hadn’t totally found the button.

-Just five minutes into the third period, Mattias Ekholm committed an uncharacteristic turnover at the Nashville blueline and that allowed Brandon Tanev to walk in 1-on-1 with Subban. P.K. played it pretty well, but a simple shot along the ice beat Rinne because he left too much room between his skate and the post. It was another goal that was a little too soft for Rinne to give up. He knew it too.

-As we have already discussed, the Predators went full Franklin in the latter half of the third and eventually paid the price. After failing to clear the zone for what felt like the 20th time in the period, Blake Wheeler put a pass right through the middle of the ice to a wide open Scheifele on the back door. Subban got tangled with Stastny in front of the net and fell as Scheifele roofed the game-tying goal.

-The Predators still weren’t as clean as they could be in the defensive zone β€” especially when it comes to turnovers. Subban gave away a breakaway. Forsberg gave away a breakaway. Ekholm had that turnover prior to the Tanev goal. There were countless others. The point I’m trying to make here is that the Jets are lethal enough without the Preds serving up scoring chances on a silver platter. As the series shifts to hostile territory, Nashville has got to manage the puck much better than they did in Game 2.

-Before I get to this next part, let me say that I 100% think Pekka Rinne should start Game 3. This is NOT an endorsement for Juuse Saros to get that start. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Rinne was pretty shaky in Game 2. Even on saves he did make, it was a bit of an adventure. As best I can tell, he has gotten away from what made him so good in the regular season. In the regular season, Rinne didn’t come as far out of his net. He stayed back a little and played a controlled game with short and efficient movements. That hasn’t been the case against the Jets and especially not in Game 2. On Sunday night, he was coming way out of his net and was overpursuing shots. That burnt him on the second goal. There were multiple times when he pushed across to square up to the shooter and had to adjust because he slid too far. I also noticed several times where he had to get up off his hindquarters during a scramble. He just didn’t look comfortable. Look, I know what the stats said. 46 saves on 50 shots ain’t a bad day at the office. Again, I’m not saying he played poorly enough to get yanked. It’ll take a lot for that to happen. Besides, he had a spectacular save in OT as Morrissey came right down main street and uncorked a slap shot that Rinne somehow got a glove on. His technique just looks like it has gotten a tad sloppier, but I don’ have much doubt it’s something Rinne and goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok can fix.

The Ugly

-Dustin Byfuglien is a mutant. Maybe just try to not draw his ire the rest of the series, fellas.

To Sum It Up

The line between life and death in the NHL Playoffs is as thin as the hair on the ass of a baby’s head. If the Jets win that game in OT, it’s a real kick to the crotch of the Predators. Instead, Fiala played hero and the Preds take a 1-1 series into Winnipeg. It’s a hostile environment, but Nashville only needs one game on the road to have a chance to take a 3-2 series lead at home in front of a crowd that has been crushing margaritas all day on Cinco de Mayo from around noon until 8:30. Steal one up in the ‘peg and we’re golden. Pun intended.

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