Ryan Johansen called Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round between his Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets a must-win.
A little early for the distinction? Perhaps. But the thought of heading back to Winnipeg — and into the Whiteout — down 2-0 had to be a daunting thought.
In a game defined by the resiliency of both teams, it was the Predators who outlasted the Jets as Kevin Fiala scored on a deke past Connor Hellebuyck on a 2-on-1 rush at 5:45 of double overtime even the best-of-7 series 1-1.
Simply put, it was a massive goal, a massive win and maybe a little redemption after a dominant performance in Game 1 left the Predators wanting in Friday’s 4-1 loss.
The majority of the 25:45 of free hockey that was played was a lesson in how manic the game of hockey can be. Chances, near-misses, desperate saves — all contained in some of the most exciting hockey thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The game arrived in overtime after a frantic battle between two determined teams in regulation.
If Game 1 didn’t live up to the hype after a lopsided game one way resulted in an unlikely win in the other direction, Game 2 certainly made up for it.
Mark Scheifele‘s goal with 1:05 remaining in the third period, with Winnipeg’s net vacant, capped it off and ensured the hype train would keep chugging along.
Prior to that, Johansen scored his second goal of the night to give the Predators a 4-3 lead with 14 minutes and change remaining in the game.
His first came two periods earlier, just 27 seconds into the game to give the Preds a quick 1-0 lead. The lead wouldn’t hold and the Jets scored twice in 29 seconds before the period was through, including Scheifele’s first of the game.
Nashville rallied in the second period, scoring twice to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Brandon Tanev tied the game at 5:11 of the third, only to watch from the bench as the Johansen scored a beauty 34 seconds later to retake the lead, one that would last until Scheifele’s crucial equalizer at 18:55.
Pekka Rinne made 46 saves when it was all said and done, just 48 hours after he was removed from Game 1 following a poor outing.
Game 3 of the series shifts to Winnipeg on Tuesday night