They needed a win and they got it.
The Nashville Predators were a single loss away from the end of their Presidents’ Trophy winning 2017-18 season and they got the performance they were looking for, beating the Winnipeg Jets, 4-0, on Monday night. It was the first time the Jets had failed to score a goal on their home ice this season.
Pekka Rinne stopped all 34 shots he faced for his second shutout of the playoffs — both coming in Game 6’s, by the way — and improved to 5-0 with a ridiculous .959 save percentage in games following losses.
The four-time Vezina Trophy finalist told reporters after the game that the Preds just weren’t ready to go home yet.
“We’ve worked way too hard and way too long,” Rinne said. “We’ve built this team together and it just shows that we have a really tight group here.”
There’s an old adage in sports about how, when the games matter the most, your best players have to be your best players. That’s exactly what happened with Nashville in Game 6. Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg each scored two goals, Ryan Johansen chipped in with two assists and the recently-maligned defense pairing of Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi played a whale of a game, finishing with plus-2 and plus-3 ratings, respectively.
Immediately following the disappointing 6-2 loss on Saturday, defenseman PK Subban basically guaranteed the win on Monday night.
“For us, we’re gonna wake up in the morning and that page is gonna be turned. We’re gonna go to Winnipeg, we’re gonna win a game and we’re gonna come back here. It’s that simple.”
– #Preds dman PK Subban after the G5 loss to the #NHLJets pic.twitter.com/exXpkB5rGG
— Jeremy K. Gover (@govertime) May 6, 2018
While a statement like that usually provides the opponent with some bulletin board material, Subban said that he was just relaying the beliefs of his team.
“I just said what everybody else in the dressing room was thinking,” he said.
His goaltender backed him up.
“It’s nice that somebody says it out loud,” Rinne said. “It’s probably not the easiest thing to say but that’s great that somebody says it because that’s how we felt before the game.”
They’ll have to wait two days but, on Thursday, Nashville will try to become the first team in this best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal series to win back-to-back games.
Thanks to the Washington Capitals (finally) advancing over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville and Winnipeg will be the only game on the calendar so the puck will drop at the normal 7:00pm Central time. It will be the first Game 7 in Bridgestone Arena’s history.
“It’s going to be wild,” Rinne said. “Obviously, as players, our job is to focus on getting ourselves ready to play hockey but it’s going to be a fun show too.”