Johansen, Granlund lead Predators over Jets 5-2 to stop skid
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ryan Johansen and Mikael Granlund each scored a goal and assisted on another to lead the Nashville Predators over the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Thursday night.
Eeli Tolvanen, Luke Kunin and Tanner Jeannot also scored for Nashville, which halted a four-game skid. Roman Josi had two assists and Juuse Saros made 36 saves.
“I thought we got off to a great start, got a good lead,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “We got ourselves into some penalties in the second period, and then I thought in the third period, Winnipeg played real hard.”
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 18 shots. Josh Morrissey added two assists.
Tolvanen scored 4:43 into the opening period after he tipped Matt Benning’s shot from the right point off the post. The rebound landed on his stick and he buried it into a wide-open net for his sixth goal of the season and first since Dec. 10.
Winnipeg challenged the goal, claiming play should have been stopped due to Tolvanen’s initial deflection being played with a high stick. A video review confirmed the call on the ice.
Granlund made it 2-0 at 11:49 of the first with a wrist shot from the right circle that deflected off Jets defenseman Neal Pionk, who had dropped to a knee in an attempt to block the shot.
Johansen concluded the first-period scoring for Nashville, squeezing a wrist shot between Hellebuyck’s pads at 17:35.
“They had some urgency, they put pucks to the goal line, they did what we wanted to do,” Jets interim coach Dave Lowry said. “They got off to a good start.”
Dubois got Winnipeg on the scoreboard at 6:41 of the second.
With the Jets on a two-man advantage, Dubois’ cross-crease pass deflected in off Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier, who slid in an attempt to block it.
“In the second period, we just took too many penalties, played a lot of minutes on the penalty kill,” Josi said.
Kunin restored Nashville’s three-goal lead at 12:22, but Scheifele’s goal 25 seconds into the third drew the Jets back within two.
Jeannot added an empty-netter in the final minute.
“I really liked our third period,” Scheifele said. “We got some more O-zone time, we got the puck deep, we did some simple things and got a lot of chances. Saros made some big saves. It’s tough to get yourself out of a hole like that.”
Josi, the Nashville captain, assisted on Granlund’s first-period goal. The assist was the 357th of Josi’s career, moving him past David Legwand for most in franchise history.
It didn’t take long for Josi to put some more distance between himself and Legwand, as he assisted on Johansen’s goal six minutes after setting the record.
Thursday was career game No. 720 for Josi, all with the Predators. Legwand, the team’s first draft pick when it entered the NHL in 1998, set his mark in 956 games with the Predators.
“Yeah, it’s really cool, definitely,” Josi said. “I’ve been very fortunate to play here for so long, in this great city in front of our great fans, amazing organization.”
Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm returned to the lineup after missing three games, all Nashville losses, in COVID-19 protocol. Entering the game, Ekholm ranked second on the Predators in average ice time. His 23:20 per game trails only Josi’s 25:05 among Nashville skaters.
Ekholm played a team-high 25:21 on Thursday.
Jets: Visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
Predators: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
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