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Preds Fall to Jets in Divisional Clash

In a test between the top two teams in the Central Division, it was the visitors who passed.

The Nashville Predators fell to the Winnipeg Jets by a 5-1 final on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, their first loss in two games against the Jets this season.

In a game that presented a potential postseason matchup between two of the behemoths in the Western Conference, it was Winnipeg who prevailed by playing quicker than the Preds and capitalizing on their chances.

“It was a big game for us,” Preds Captain Roman Josi said. “They’re right in front of us. They’re obviously a great team in our division. We’re not happy with the result, but we have to learn from it.”

“They’re a good hockey team,” Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “We know that. They know that. I thought we competed for the most part. Our battle level, especially in the first, it was there, it was back and forth. You get frustrated as the game goes on, but, all in all, I think they just executed more than we did.”

Brendan Lemieux gave the Jets a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, and it could have been two if Nashville Video Coaches Lawrence Feloney and Andrew Meloche didn’t step in and call for an offside review. As is typical, the duo got it right, keeping the deficit at one.

Less than four minutes into the second, however, Mason Appleton made it 2-0 Winnipeg. Midway through the period, the Preds got on the board thanks to, who else, but Viktor Arvidsson, who slid home a loose puck for his 18th of the season and fourth in two games.

But, with less than a minute to play in the second stanza, Bryan Little put the visitors back up by two, and the Jets added two more in the third to pull away and clinch their victory.

“They were better than us tonight,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “They were quicker. I thought they capitalized. I thought they did a better job of generating quality chances. It seemed when we got in the offensive zone our shots didn’t go through, we didn’t do a good job of taking his (Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s) eyes, we didn’t generate the chances from the areas that we need to generate them from. For me, they capitalized on their chances and I thought that we needed to do a better job generating our chances.”

The Predators don’t view the loss as an indicator that the Jets are a better team than they are – it’s just one game – but on this occasion, it was Winnipeg who found a way and jumped out to a four-point lead in the division.

“They’re tough games every time we play them,” Josi said. “They’re a great team, and right now they’re in front of us. It’s such a long season, though. We have to learn from that game. There’s a lot of things we can do a lot better, but it’s one game. We have to focus on the next game.”

“They’re the team we’re chasing right now,” Ellis said. “It’s a bit of a test for us, and tonight, we failed. But, hopefully the next one we won’t.”

Notes:

With an assist on Viktor Arvidsson’s goal, Filip Forsberg extended his point streak against Winnipeg to four games.

Nashville’s three-game homestand concludes on Saturday night when they host the Florida Panthers before embarking on a two-game trip to Colorado and Las Vegas prior to 2019 All-Star Weekend.

Pete Weber’s Postgame Report