The visiting Nashville Predators picked up a 2-1 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday evening at Bell MTS Place. Mikael Granlund scored the game-winner 1:11 into the extra frame, beating Connor Hellebuyck on a one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Mattias Ekholm. Hellebuyck made 34 saves on 36 shots, while Juuse Saros turned aside 33 of 34 Winnipeg shots.
Despite the loss, the Jets came out with some gumption Tuesday evening, scoring the game’s opening goal, before losing their momentum and allowing the visitors back into the game, giving up a late first period goal.
Less than two minutes into the game, Nikolaj Ehlers picked up the puck with speed in the offensive zone, before dropping the disc to an equally speedy Mason Appleton. The 24-year-old second-line, fill-in winger drove to the net and beat Juuse Saros with a backhand shot, before crashing into the end boards. Nick Bonino tied the game at ones with a low one-timer off of a Rocco Grimaldi behind-the-net pass with 2:21 to play.
The Predators led the Jets in the shot department through 20 minutes of play, jumping ahead 15-9 after the opening frame. Connor Hellebuyck stood his ground on a two-on-zero, shutting it down after defenceman Anthony Bitetto fell down defending in the neutral zone. Mark Scheifele hit the crossbar on an early period breakaway chance, but Appleton scored his third of the season shortly thereafter.
The second period saw the two Central Division teams exchange chances, with Winnipeg rallying for 15 shots in the frame, boosting their total to 24, while Nashville let its collective foot off the gas pedal, just hitting Connor Hellebuyck seven times in the middle stanza. After Filip Forsberg rang a power play wrist shot off the post, Patrik Laine found himself alone on a breakaway, where he was hooked and unable to get a shot off.
Laine was credited with the first penalty shot at Bell MTS Place since November of 2017 (when Kyle Connor was denied by Dallas’ Ben Bishop) but was unsuccessful in his backhand attempt. The offensive attack continued in the third period, as the Jets continued to outshoot their southern opponents. But despite the added pressure, Saros stood on his head, continually turning aside shot after shot.
Nashville collected many chances of their own in the late stages of the third period and overtime, and it just wasn’t meant to be for Winnipeg as Granlund scored the winner shortly into the fourth period of play. With the Jets dead-tired after a long opening shift, Nashville capitalized on a transition play, ending with a two-on-one one-timer that found the back of Winnipeg’s net.
Now dropping to 26-23-5 on the season, the Jets have fallen into a three-way tie for third (57 points) in the Western Conference Wild Card race with fellow Central Division opponents Nashville and Chicago.
The Jets now head out on the road for a quick trip to St. Louis for another Central Division matchup on Thursday against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blues. Puck drop from Enterprise Center is set for 7:00 PM central. The game is available to view live on TSN.