Predators struck first
Nashville had an epic collapse in Game 3 of their Western Conference playoff series with the Winnipeg Jets. They came out and scored three goals early, but could not hold the lead.
Winnipeg scored seven of the next eight goals and they grabbed a 2-1 series lead. Nashville came out of the gate strong again.
Late in the first period forward Ryan Hartman scored his second of the postseason to open the scoring. The play developed after Scott Hartnell attempted to ice the puck and Paul Stastny knocked it down with a high stick for a whistle. It was a huge break for the Predators and after the next whistle they took the lead.
Huge statistic or meaningless number?
The Nashville Predators allowed just two 4-on-4 goals in 82 regular season games. In three games with the Winnipeg Jets in this series they have allowed three.
It has been a tough matchup for the Predators and it was the turning point of Game 3 and the Jets turnaround.
One opportunity leads to another
Midway through the second period Dustin Byfuglien took a slashing penalty to put the Predators on the power play. It was a questionable call, but it led to an opportunity,
On the penalty kill the Predators turned the puck over and the Jets turned it into start a 2-on-1. P.K. Subban was the only man back and Blake Wheeler put the pass over Subban but Mark Scheifele failed to get blade to puck.
The crowd was loud, but it did not turn out in their favor. The play swung the other way and the Predators reset their power play. Viktor Arvidsson set up in front of the net and P.K. Subban scored through his screen. It increased the lead to 2-0.
Arvidsson contributing in his own way
The big players are supposed to get to the front of the net and screen the goalie. Viktor Arvidsson is 5'9" tall and he still manages to be effective. He gets in front of the net and is hard to move around.
He is proving that you do not have to be huge to be a pest and be effective in front of the goalie.
Both goalies come out to play
In Game 4 both goaltenders showed up to play. They were not their normal selves in Game 3 and they both had questionable goals go past them. They both had added motivation to show up big in Game 4.
Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 28 shots and Pekka Rinne stopped 32 shots. They are both Vezina Trophy candidates.
Winnipeg makes it interesting late
The Jets trailed the Predators the entire game and they cut the lead in half late. Patrik Laine scored on the power play with only 50 seconds remaining and the lead was cut in half. The building was alive for the first time, but the clock was ticking.
They failed to tie the game and Predators tied the series 2-2 heading back to Nashville. Pekka Rinne was the first star of the game and he had a bounce back game after a rough Game 2. This is a circus save he made against Bryan Little.
He made a pivotal save on Mark Scheifele late in the third and it defined his game. If the Jets got any momentum he made pivotal saves or got a whistle to stop any momentum.
Players need to step up
If the Winnipeg Jets are going to win this series they need some key players to step up including Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine.
The three young stars for the Jets had terrific regular seasons and it has not been the same for the postseason. Kyle Connor scored 25 goals in his rookie season, Ehlers had over 60 points and Laine finished second in goals in the NHL.
Connor and Ehlers have a combined two points in the series and have been virtually nonexistent. Laine scored late in Game 4 and it was his first goal since Game 2 of the opening round.
He gets lots of opportunities but has failed to convert. Scheifele and Wheeler have done the hard work and they need people to step up and help them.
Game 5 goes Saturday night from Nashville.
Who wins Game 5? Leave your comments below.