By Ron Wynn
The Predators put together their best overall game of the playoffs Monday night when they needed it most, jumping on top early, then dominating the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 to even their best of seven series at three games each. It was their second road victory of this series, and second consecutive win in Winnipeg over a team that had previously not lost at home since early March. Flilp Forsberg had two goals and an assist, while Pekka Rinne silenced the detractors with a 34 save shutout, his second of the playoffs. The win means the series deciding game will be back in Nashville Thursday night.
“Desperation,” was how Rinne phrased it to the Associated Press. “It just shows that we have a really tight group.” It was Rinne’s fifth playoff shutout.
Viktor Arvidsson also had two goals and an assist, while Roman Josi and Ryan ohansen each added an assist. The Predators’ top line had eight points overall, matching the eight the Jets top line produced in their 6-2 Game 5 win. The Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 of 28 shots, with the final goal being an empty netter. Nashville killed off four penalties as well.
The Predators got a goal only 62 seconds into the game on a deflection off a shot from Josi that Arvidsson was able to maneuver into the net. It was initially waved off for a high stick, but then later ruled a good goal. Then another Forsberg highlight play made it 2-0. Rinne made spectacular saves throughout the first two periods, then Forsberg’s third period goal pretty much ended any suspense. It came on a play where he not only put the puck between his legs, but was able to handle a pass from behind the net and then beat Hellebuyck again.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Fil’s a big-game player,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “(The second) goal was just good work by their line, but he had to finish it off. Let’s be honest, none of us in this room can make that play. … You’ve got to give him a lot of credit.”
So now the two teams that finished one and two in the regular season will meet to decide who advances to the Conference Finals.