Rinne, Preds rebound with 2-1 win vs Jets to tie series at 2
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — P.K. Subban didn’t get heckled as long and as loud as he normally does from Winnipeg fans on Thursday.
He and the rest of Nashville’s defenseman did enough to finally quiet the Jets on the ice, too.
Pekka Rinne made 32 saves, Subban and Ryan Hartman scored and the Predators stifled Winnipeg’s high-powered offense to win 2-1 and even their second-round series through four games.
Patrik Laine scored off a faceoff in the final minute, but Nashville’s Nick Bonino won two key faceoffs after that to end it.
“That was an amazing team effort,” Rinne said. “We played a really solid game throughout.”
Game 5 will be Saturday in Nashville, with Game 6 set for Winnipeg on Monday. Game 7, if necessary, would be in Nashville next Thursday.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 27 shots, but Nashville snapped Winnipeg’s 13-game home winning streak, which dated to March 2.
Rinne allowed five goals amid a series of defensive miscues in a 7-4 Game 3 defeat after Winnipeg totaled eight goals over the first two games. Rinne rebounded impressively behind a Nashville team that was much sharper in its own end.
“I think last game, the details are kind of what cost us,” Subban said. “This game, we paid attention to all of them for a full 60 (minutes).”
The Predators led 1-0 after the first period and stretched their lead with 5:24 left in the second when Subban blasted a one-timer on Nashville’s first power play.
Booed by the thunderous white-clad crowd every time he’s touched the puck the last two games, Subban seemed to feed off the noise. It was Subban’s third goal of the series after being held without one in the first round.
“The biggest thing is we had full commitment through our lineup to play defense,” Subban said. “In our zone when bounces didn’t go our way, we worked the puck out.”
The Jets found far less space in the neutral zone, but also saw a couple of golden opportunities bounce over their sticks.
Winnipeg had a couple of great chances to tie it earlier in the period. Kyle Connor missed on a pass from Bryan Little in the slot on a power play, and Mark Scheifele let the puck skip over his stick on a 2-on-1 with Blake Wheeler moments before Subban silenced the crowd with his goal.
Laine scored on a 6-on-4 with 50.2 seconds left in the third — his third of the playoffs and first of the series — but the Predators held on from there to wrestle back home-ice advantage.
“They had five guys behind the red line and we were a little stubborn — didn’t want to make them turn around and bring the puck out,” Wheeler said. “They pounced on a loose puck and we chased the game.”
Nikolaj Ehlers was back on the Jets’ top line alongside Scheifele and Wheeler after switching spots with Connor following Tuesday’s disastrous opening 20 minutes when Winnipeg fell behind 3-0. Connor once again skated with Laine and Paul Stastny.
Nashville opened the scoring with 2:40 left in the first when Hartman scored his second of the playoffs off a scramble in front. An attempted clear by Winnipeg’s Ben Chiarot in front instead went off defense partner Tyler Myers and directly to Hartman, who beat Hellebuyck up high.
The teams traded chances earlier in the period, with Hellebuyck stopping Roman Josi and Scott Hartnell on 2-on-1 breaks, while the butt end of Rinne’s stick stopped Josh Morrisey’s backhand chance along the ice at the other end.
“So lucky,” Rinne said. “I mean, I’ll take that any day. But it was so lucky. I wish I could say I did that on purpose.”
Notes: The Jets inserted winger Joel Armia into the lineup after he missed the first three games of the series with an upper-body injury. Rookie forward Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch. ... Hartnell stepped in for Kevin Fiala, who scored in double overtime for Nashville in Game 2. The Predators also dressed defenseman Yannick Weber in place of Alexei Emelin.
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