Kevin Fiala scored 5:37 into double overtime, and the Nashville Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-4 on Sunday night in Game 2 to even the Western Conference semifinal series.
The Presidents’ Trophy winners had the NHL’s best road record during the regular season, but the Predators got the split they needed before this series switches to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Tuesday night. That’s where the Jets posted the league’s best home record.
Craig Smith and Fiala skated up on a 2-on-1, and Jets defenseman Byflugien failed to block Smith’s cross-ice pass to Fiala who beat goalie Connor Hellebuyck with a backhander.
Ryan Johansen scored two goals, Viktor Arvidsson had a goal and two assists, and P.K. Subban had a goal and an assist as Nashville won both its 100th postseason game as a franchise and coach Peter Laviolette’s 50th with the team. Filip Forsberg also had three primary assists for the first time in the postseason in his career.
Mark Scheifele scored two goals and had an assist. Byflugien had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Tanev had a goal for Winnipeg.
Tanev tied it at 3, putting the puck past Pekka Rinne’s right skate at 5:11 of the third. Johansen answered 34 seconds later, skating around Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom and beating Hellebuyck top shelf.
But Scheifele forced overtime with his fourth goal in this series and eighth this postseason with 1:05 left in regulation and Hellebuyck pulled for the extra attacker.
The Predators brought star Carrie Underwood in for the U.S. anthem as a “proud hockey wife” of Nashville center Mike Fisher, and Marcus Mariota brought the NFL’s Tennessee Titans offensive linemen to wave the rally towels. Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan held up a huge catfish before they chugged beers — Lewan using the catfish as a funnel.
After throwing up a postseason-high 48 shots in losing Game 1 on Friday night, the Predators wasted no time getting on the board this time. Johansen scored 27 seconds in on Nashville’s first shot and a 1-0 lead, snapping Winnipeg’s streak of 10 straight games scoring the first goal with the Jets going 9-1-0 in that stretch dating back to the regular season.
The Jets made up for that by scoring twice 29 seconds apart to grab the lead. Byflugien scored between Rinne’s pads on a 4-on-4 at 12:47, and Scheifele made it 2-1 with a power-play goal at 13:16 of the period.
Subban tied it with a slap shot for Nashville’s first power-play goal of the series and the Norris Trophy finalist’s first goal this postseason at 5:04 of the second. That brought the sold-out crowd to life again, and Rinne settled down as well. A couple minutes later, he made a big pad save on a shot by Kyle Connor and then gloved a shot from Byflugien.
The Jets thought they took the lead with 6:14 left in the second period only to have the apparent goal by Andrew Copp immediately waved off. Rinne made the stop on Byflugien off a breakaway with Copp scoring off the rebound. But Matt Hendricks was called for interference for knocking down Nashville defenseman Matt Irwin, negating the goal.
Arvidsson gave Nashville a 3-2 lead with a slap shot from the right circle at 18:41 of the second.
Capitals hold on to lead against Penguins
Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal of the playoffs, Braden Holtby made 32 saves and the Washington Capitals built a lead and this time held on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 in Game 2 on Sunday to even the second-round series.
After blowing a two-goal lead for the third time in these playoffs in Game 1, this time Washington built on it. The Capitals also were the beneficiary of a questionable video review in the third period when the NHL ruled there were no definitive replays showing the puck crossed the goal line on what would have been Pittsburgh’s second goal.
Jakub Vrana scored on the power play and Brett Connolly on a breakaway for the Capitals, who have beaten goaltender Matt Murray glove-side all five of their goals against him through two games. Nicklas Backstrom scored an empty-netter to seal it with 6.1 seconds left, shortly after T.J. Oshie appeared to be injured.
Murray made 18 of his 28 saves in the first period when the Capitals had an onslaught and built their lead.
Holtby robbed Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel with sliding pad saves to on the way to evening the series going into Game 3 Tuesday in Pittsburgh, which could mark the return of Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin. In Malkin’s third consecutive game out of the lineup with an apparent leg injury, Pittsburgh felt his absence as it failed to mount much of an offensive attack beyond the top line of Crosby, Guentzel and Hornqvist.
Crosby and Hornqvist were on the ice for the Penguins’ only goal, Kris Letang scoring from the point through traffic at 4-on-4. The Capitals improved to 2-3 in the playoffs when scoring the first two goals of the game.
Blowing two-goal leads had become a theme for Washington, which made Connolly’s early-second-period goal all that much more important.
Minutes later, Capitals winger Tom Wilson hit Brian Dumoulin in the head as the Penguins defenseman appeared to be pulling up to avoid a check from Ovechkin. Dumoulin left the game and did not return.
No penalty was called on the play, but Wilson could face a suspension considering the contact to Dumoulin’s head and his track record. Dumoulin’s status and Murray’s glove hand are major concerns for the Penguins as the series continues.