Winnipeg grabs road victory
The Winnipeg Jets went into Nashville and won Game 1. They shut the crowd down early and Bridgestone arena was quiet in the final period and a half.
The statistical edge went to the Nashville Predators, but that did not matter. The Jets won the little battles and capitalized on the chances they had.
The Nashville Predators came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. They led the shot battle 12-2 at the halfway point of the first period. The shots were primarily from the defense and that was a theme for the game.
Brandon Tanev opened the scoring for the Jets at 14:51 of the first period. Craig Smith turned the puck over at the blueline and Brian Little got a shot on net with Tanev putting away the rebound. It was only Winnipeg's third shot.
The shots were 30-9 at one point, but the Predators could not score. Paul Stastny found the back of the net at 9:01 to increase the lead. It was an incredible effort by Nikolaj Ehlers who raced the puck up the ice and found Patrik Laine in front and Stastny put home the rebound.
Mark Scheifele increased the lead to 3-0 late in the second period after a curl and drag that went over the right pad of Pekka Rinne.
The arena was dead quiet and there was a sense of shock.
Kevin Fiala scored early in the third period to make it 3-1, but it did not matter. The Predators had lot of shots yet only one crossed the red line. Mark Scheifele scored his second of the game and sixth of the playoffs put the game on ice.
Tale of two Vezina candidates
Pekka Rinne and Connor Hellebuyck were both nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in the regular season. They are both great goalies but Hellebuyck was the only one to show up in Game 1.
Hellebuyck made 47 saves in the victory and has only allowed one goal in his last three starts. He was the best player on the ice and always gives his team a chance to win.
Pekka Rinne allowed three goals on 14 shots and was pulled after the second period. The third goal was questionable and there was clear frustration from the start. Rinne needs to be great if they are going to win this series.
Juuse Saros entered the game in the third period and stopped all two shots he faced. The fourth goal was a empty-net goal.
No traffic in front of Hellebuyck
The Predators had 48 shots, but only one found the back of the net. The case can be made that majority of the shots were not high quality. The defense had a lot of shots with no traffic in front. Hellebuyck could see the majority of the shots he faced and that needs to change for Nashville.
They need to eliminate his vision and then the point shots are much more effective. It will lead to more scoring chances with a higher quality.
Game 2 Sunday
Game 2 goes Sunday from Nashville. The Predators will be desperate to head to Winnipeg with a split and Winnipeg will look to have a 2-0 huge lead heading back to the MTS Center.
Who will win Game 2? Who will win the series? Leave your comments below!