Predators edge Jets in West showdown

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If you scanned this week’s schedule after a fascinating trade deadline, Nashville Predators vs. Winnipeg Jets probably stood out as a potential clash of titans.

These two Central Division standouts did not disappoint.

After a 0-0 first period, the Predators and Jets traded body blow after body blow. Winnipeg managed 3-1 and 5-3 leads during an explosive final 40 minutes of action, with Paul Stastny proving to be a quick study by collecting a goal and an assist in his Jets debut. It wasn’t enough, however, as the Predators kept fighting back until they nabbed a 6-5 win in regulation.

Not enough excitement for you? Consider this: the Predators’ latest big trade splash, Ryan Hartman, ended up scoring the decisive goal with just a minute remaining.

With 11 goals overall, it was an all-hands-on-deck affair for these two potential championship contenders, so it wasn’t all about narrative-friendly moments like Stastny and Hartman contributing. (That said, it had to feel good for Nashville after many people muttered “a first-round pick for Hartman?” on Monday.)

Usual suspects like Mark Scheifele (two goals) and Craig Smith (two goals making him an increasingly usual suspect, already at 20 goals) enjoyed nice showings. This Nikolaj Ehlers goal borders on the obscene:

Also bordering on obscene: Roman Josi‘s handsome five-assist night. He had already set a career-high with four earlier in that game, so even for a prolific point producer like Josi, this was a special output.

Basically, this was a great game, although goalies and defensive-minded coaches would probably disagree. It only seems right that the latest trade commodity helped Predators GM David Poile reach a lofty milestone, right?

Of course, the bigger milestones are ahead for both teams:

  • The Jets hope to win their first playoff game, then series, and then who knows?
  • Nashville aims to win Poile’s first Stanley Cup after reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

It wouldn’t be surprising if these two teams end up meeting in the playoffs. If they do, let’s hope the series is anywhere near as fun as tonight.

(Pekka Rinne and Connor Hellebuyck do not endorse this message.)

The two teams load up at the deadline

Jets surprise by landing Stastny from Blues.

Predators pay big price to get Hartman from Blackhawks.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.