Jets and Predators provide classic clash — 2 rounds too early
Nashville wins double-OT thriller to even series ahead of Game 3 in Winnipeg
If you required another indictment that Gary Bettman's playoff format is flawed, all you had to do was tune in to watch the wonderfully wild double-overtime game between the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators in the heart of country music on Sunday.
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The end result in Game 2 was a Kevin Fiala goal five minutes and 37 seconds into the second overtime period to give the Predators a 5-4 victory and even the series at 1-1 with Game 3 on deck in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Fiala finalizes win
Fiala's game-winner was the result of a two-on-one that developed just inside the Predators' blue line. Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom got caught in a pinch as Nashville's Kyle Turris chipped the puck to linemate Craig Smith. Smith then set up Fiala for a perfect deke off the rush.
The Jets were caught with their fourth line out against the Predators' second line.
The 21-year-old Fiala missed out on the final two rounds of the Predators run to the final a year ago. The Swiss left winger suffered a broken left leg in the second round and was knocked out of the playoffs.
This game had it all. There was so much pace, energy and emotion — for over four periods. There was some nastiness, plenty of highlight goals and some remarkable saves from Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne and Winnipeg counterpart Connor Hellebuyck.
Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was excellent, too — as was Predators blue-liner P.K. Subban, who scored the Predators' 2-2 goal early in the second period on the power play. Subban played 39:24, almost four minutes more than Byfuglien's team-leading 35:27.
Scheifele went head-to-head with Nashville's young star Ryan Johansen. Each scored two goals in the game.
But as disappointing as the outcome was for Winnipeg, the Jets played a better game than they did in the opener when they were opportunistic in a 4-1 win.
Jets feeling good despite loss
"It was a sucky way to lose, but I think we played a better game than we did on Friday, so that's a positive," said Scheifele, whose Jets outshot Nashville 50-41. "We can be upset for 10 minutes, but after that we need to get our rest and get ready for Tuesday.
"Playoff hockey is fun. It's exciting. You're going to win games, you're going to lose games. You're going to get behind in games and up in games. That's why they are best-four-out-of-seven series."
But the Predators were the best road team in the regular season and won two of three in Colorado against the Avalanche in the first round.
Game 3 can't arrive soon enough, because even if the bracket era is flawed, this matchup has been a marvel.