After a strong home outing against the Los Angeles Kings gave Winnipeg a 2-1-0 record on the season, the Jets flew down to Nashville for Central Division matchup against the team that they ousted from the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs in game seven of the Western Conference Semifinal.
A back and forth scoreless first period set the tone for what was an excellent opening 20 minutes of hockey. Following a sequence of strong Winnipeg pressure, Ryan Hartman intercepted a Ben Chiarot cross ice pass, and took the puck the distance of the ice, beating Connor Hellebuyck to give Nashville a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the second period.
After already killing off a Chiarot slashing minor and a Patrik Laine high sticking double minor in the first period, the absurd trek to the penalty box took off in the second frame for the Jets. Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers each received minor penalties midway through the second period, before each finding themselves in separate fights with four minutes to play in the middle stanza.
Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba were each given two-minute minors before the end of the second, before Tyler Myers was handed a ten-minute misconduct for applauding the on ice officials’ penalty calls. In all, the Predators were given eight power plays before the Jets were even awarded one. Winnipeg then picked up another 34 minutes in penalties in the third period.
Incredibly, Nashville did not a single power play goal Thursday evening, boosting the Jets’ penalty killing numbers on the evening. Winnipeg did, however, give up two more goals in the third, and were unable to find any offence good enough to beat Preds’ Pekka Rinne.
Roma Josi blasted a slap shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the season off of a Jets’ turnover, before Ryan Johansen sealed the deal with five minutes left to play on a great individual effort, resulting in a backhand marker that went top shelf over Hellebuyck.
The Jets’ netminder played solid, considering his team found itself shorthanded nine times in the game. He stopped 27 of 30 shots, but ultimately lost the game, while Rinne stopped all 29 pucks he faced in the contest. Winnipeg had 50 penalty minutes on 13 penalties in the game. It was the most times that the Jets had been shorthanded in one game since November 8th, 2011 in Buffalo when the Sabres had 12 power plays.
The Jets fly back to Nashville on January 17th, while the Preds roll into town two times in March. Next up for Winnipeg is home contest against the high flying Carolina Hurricanes from Bell MTS Place on Sunday. Puck drop is set for 6:00 P.M. central and the game can be viewed live on Sportsnet.