Thanks to a bizarre scheduling anomaly, the Nashville Predators returned to Winnipeg to face their Central Division rival Jets for the first time since March 23, 2019 – a timeframe spanning nearly 10 months, or 295 days. The Jets came out flat following a four-game road trip and failed to find the twine all game, ultimately losing in shutout fashion 1-0 on home ice.
The Preds jumped ahead to an early lead Sunday afternoon, before holding off a struggling home offence for the duration of the contest. Winnipeg lost its sixth in a row at Bell MTS Place, after having long been a team that finds success in its home barn.
The first period saw the visitors capitalize on a mistake by Jets centre Adam Lowry, who attempted a weak backhand, cross-ice pass in his defensive zone. The puck was intercepted by Nashville’s Yakov Trenin, who moved in on a two-on-zero with Kyle Turris. He slipped the disc cross-ice where Turris put it past Connor Hellebuyck with just 8:07 to play in the opening frame.
The Predators dominated the Jets in the first period of play, jumped ahead to a 15-7 shot advantage through the first 20 minutes of play. Winnipeg turned the puck over 11 times in the first, but battled back in the middle stanza, taking over possession and bringing the shot totals to 24-18 for Nashville through a scoreless second period.
Winnipeg had plenty of opportunity to score in the game, but just couldn’t solve the Predators’ ‘goaltender of the future’. But it wasn’t for lack of trying, as the Jets had two separate power plays in the second half of the game, as both captain Roman Josi and offensive forward Matt Duchene each sat for two minutes in the sin bin for minor infractions.
One of Winnipeg’s best scoring opportunities came on an Andrew Copp breakaway, as the speedy forward found himself all alone on a first period breakaway, where he hit Saros in the shoulder with a close-distance shot. Mason Appleton later found the iron in the opening frame near the goalmouth, following a great setup pass from Nick Shore. While the third period saw Nikolaj Ehlers ring a shot off the far post in a strong rush up ice.
Despite pulling their netminder for an extra attacker, the two posts and breakaway save were the Jets’ best scoring chances in the game, as the third period did not provide much for a comeback. The final 20 minutes saw Winnipeg narrow the shot gap to just four, putting up 28 shots in the game, but the home team ultimately dropped the shot battle as well, 32-28.
Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves on 32 shots, while Jusse Saros was perfect, turning aside all 28 pucks he faced Sunday. In giving up two points to the Predators, Winnipeg now sees its record drop to 24-18-4, while Nashville improves to 21-16-7 on the season. Next up for the Jets is an all-Canadian, Western Conference matchup against the Vancouver Canucks at home Tuesday, before the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning roll into town Friday. Both games will be played at 7:00 PM central and will be available to view on TSN.