The Nashville Predators earned their first win of the year, shutting out the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 on home ice. This was Nashville’s first home win of the year, and Pekka Rinne‘s first shutout of the 2018-2019 season.
Nashville Key Stats:
Winnipeg Key Stats:
Nashville’s Hartman opened up the scoring in the second period with a steal at the blueline followed by a backhand goal.
Josi then slapped one through Connor Hellebuyck’s pads. A product of another Hartman-induced turnover, Ellis picked up a loose puck and found Josi in between the face off circles. Eight minutes later, Arvidsson picked up a stretch pass from Forsberg. Arvidsson dished the puck to Johansen who finished the play, and expanded the lead to 3-0.
Rinne and Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck proved why they were finalists for the Vezina trophy, as both netminders denied many good shots. Rinne emerged victorious, but Hellebuyck’s performance should not be disregarded.
The rivalry indefinitely grew tonight, as frustrations overcame many star players for both squads. The 2017-2018 playoffs created serious animosity between Nashville and Winnipeg, and that hatred was on display. Since these two Central Division foes square off three more times in the regular season, the rivalry will undoubtedly grow more before playoff time.
Nashville’s power play has been unsuccessful through the first four games. No goals on nine attempts (including a full, two-minute five-on-three power play) is simply atrocious. On the contrary, a perfect penalty kill for the night is commendable.
Nashville took only three minor penalties.
The Predators’ fourth line, which included Colton Sissons, Zac Rinaldo, and Miika Salomaki, played their best hockey against Winnipeg. Solid offensive shifts in the first period placed pressure on Hellebuyck; although no one scored, a Rinaldo shot ricocheted off his mask and Sissons and Salomaki were in front of the net all night. However, this line raised the Jets’ ire in other ways; Rinaldo, a known instigator on the ice, may have sparked some tenacity in his line mates.
In the waning minutes of the second period, the teams started to show their disdain for each other. Following a hard hit from Salomaki after the whistle, a major scrum ensued on the glass. Sissons and Nikolaj Ehlers dropped the gloves, as did defenseman Mattias Ekholm and captain Blake Wheeler.
Ekholm and Sissons have played at a different level this year. Ekholm has been the best defenseman for the Predators on both ends of the ice. Sissons currently leads the Predators’ centers in face-off win percentage, and is tied with Nashville’s top center in points. If they can maintain consistency, they will be vital in Nashville’s success later in the season.
Rinne was the definite first star of the night, as he turned away all 30 shots. Performances like these will place him as the unquestionable starter for the rest of the year.
Revival in Smashville?
Nashville needed this win. While it may only be the fourth game of the year, the team sparked a long-lost, unspoken, playoff-esque energy in Bridgestone Arena. Considering that Nashville has not won on home ice since the second round of the 2017-2018 playoffs, this should help reestablish an intimidating presence.
In other Predators news, forward Austin Watson’s suspension was reduced to 18 games. He can return to the ice on November 15th, when Nashville plays the Arizona Coyotes.
Also, did anyone else see the smug grin that Filip Forsberg gave Blake Wheeler?
Nashville hosts the New York Islanders for the second time this year on Oct. 13, while Winnipeg hosts the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 14.
Cover Photo Credits: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images -Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for Fullpresscoverage.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15