Predators answer the call, top Jets in Game Four.

After their epic meltdown in their Game Three loss it was unclear as to how the Nashville Predators were going to come out against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. They could have come out flat with their backs against the wall or they could have come out focused and ready to take a virtually must win game.

The latter happened as the Preds evened the series up at 2-2 with a 2-1 win in Game Four; they did it in style, too.

Nashville executed its gameplan to near perfection on Thursday night behind its two goals from P.K. Subban and Ryan Hartman.

Subban now has one goal in three straight games to go along with two assists in the series.

Subban and his fellow blue liner’s pressure hadn’t been there for the Predators, at least not consistently, throughout the series and that changed in Game Four. Nashville gave Winnipeg no free space at all.

The pressure in the neutral zone really stuck out as a key factor with the Predators doing a fantastic job at slowing down the Jets, creating turnovers and simply not allowing them to fly into the offensive zone which is what makes their team so deadly.

Whether it being forwards with active sticks in the neutral zone or defensemen pinching a little higher near the blue line, the Predators had the middle of the ice on lockdown.

The Jets still managed to out shoot the Predators 33-29, but Pekka Rinne answered the call.

Rinne was catching a bit of slack heading into Game Four after allowing 12 goals over the first three games of the series, but it was unwarranted. The team out in front of Rinne wasn’t helping his cause, but it did on Thursday night.

The Finnish netminder was exceptional in the win and looked like his regular season self with 32 stops. The lone goal he allowed came via Patrik Laine on the power play with less than a minute left in regulation.

That performance should shut the critics up saying Juuse Saros should’ve started Game Four. If the performance alone doesn’t, at least this save he made in the first period should:

Rinne is now 4-0 this postseason following a loss.

Everything seemingly clicked for the Predators on Thursday night, but perhaps the most impressive aspect was just how good they were in the third period.

After their Game Three disaster, a 2-0 lead was far from safe and Nashville knew that and delivered in the final 20 minutes of action. The Jets didn’t register their first shot on net of the period until nine minutes into the period.

The Predators kept their foot on the gas in the third and didn’t sit back. Nashville out shot Winnipeg during 5-on-5 play in the final period 7-6 while each side managed eight scoring chances.

The defensive pressure hit an entirely different level in the third period and when the Predators defense sustains the pressure they did on Thursday night, even the Jets can’t break through.

Simply from a reaction standpoint after losing Game Three, Nashville’s performance in Game Four may just be its best this postseason. The Nashville Predators couldn’t lose Game Four and expect to win this series. A loss would mean they would need to win three straight over the Jets and that simply wouldn’t have happened.

Now this series turns into a three-game standoff between the top two teams in the NHL.

Game Five in Nashville is set for Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. CST.

Box Score

Fancy Stats

 

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