The Nashville Predators, in their third game with new coach John Hynes at the reins, played a tight road game and left the occupants of MTS Arena Sunday afternoon, bored and frustrated. It’s a well-known fact that home teams tend to play poorly during their first game back from a road trip, and the Jets lackluster effort Sunday afternoon did not disappoint. Did they create an odd man rush? How many shots did they get from the inside on Saros? Yeah, backup Saros got the game against a leading divisional rival. I guess Rinne earned the night off.
The first chance went to Nashville when Hellebuyck, as he’s becoming known for, misplayed the ring-around and deflected the puck to a Predator, who moved it quickly to Trenin for a decent shot in the high slot. Luckily, Hellebuyck is a much better goalie than puck mover and made the save fairly easily.
The Preds received the first powerplay and peppered Hellebuyck with shots in a flurry that looked like a goal in the making. Helle loves these afternoon games though, and proved it on that kill. On the same powerplay, Poolman sprung Copp for a breakaway, but Saros got his glove on the Copp shot, directing it out of harm’s way.
Shortly after, Ehlers would get tripped up and slide into Wheeler, taking him out. The result would be an odd-man rush for Nashville that ended with Matt Duchene taking the one-timer, but Hellebuyck glided over, hugged the post, and kept the puck out.
The fourth line followed with a great shift that saw Appleton ring one off the inside of the post. His confidence appears to be growing and I believe we’ll begin to see some more offense out of him soon enough.
A brutal turnover by Adam Lowry, attempting to send the puck over to Kulikov, resulted in Yakov Trenin intercepting and going in with Turris on a 2 on 0. All he had to do was flick it over to Turris to tuck in for the only goal of the game.
It was pretty obvious who was the better team in that period even though the Predators didn’t do anything terribly impressive. And on a troubling note, Poolman would be lost for the rest of the game after Trenin got him with an awkward hit.
The Jets, awarded with a powerplay early, got a classic Wheeler to Laine one-timer, but Saros stood tall and guided the rebound away. Later on, Nick Shore did well to find Kulikov at the point for a slapper that Appleton would tip just wide.
It was at this time I noticed Niku’s second giveaway of the game. He appeared a step behind and has maybe been one throughout his audition in the big league. On the plus side, with the Jets trapped in their zone for a spell, Pionk made a nice bodycheck on Arvidsson to break up the Preds play and clear the puck.
Half way through the game and the shots were 22 – 11 for the Predators. A sluggish start for sure. The Jets did find their legs a bit during the latter half of the game however, the bulk of their attempts were from the outside with only Wheeler’s rebound chance in tight to contradict that narrative. Is this the work of Hynes or did Nashville just really want this one?
Still, a much better period when considering the Jets turned over 11 pucks in the first, compared to just 1 in the second.
Helle had to be sharp to start this one when, 13 seconds in, a puck slipped out of the corner to Calle Jarnkrok in the slot. Yikes! Not to be a downer but Niku coughed up another one before this linesman proved his metal.
On the powerplay again, Pionk sets up Laine for another one of his patented one-timers, but it bounces off Saros’ chest and right past Scheifele’s flailing stick, eventually clearing the zone. The Jets would get a few more blasts from the point and sharp angled shots, including Ehlers potential beauty. Just watch.