Jets use power play to beat Predators 3-1
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Mark Scheifele made the most of his latest scoring chance.
He turned it into his second goal of the season - the one that made the difference in the Winnipeg Jets' win over the visiting Nashville Predators.
Scheifele and Andrew Ladd scored power-play goals 2:36 apart in the first period, and the Jets beat the Predators 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Scheifele tried to minimize the importance of his goal that gave the Jets (7-5-1) their third win at home this season. But he did manage to smile when asked if this one was a relief.
''Yeah, a little bit,'' he said. ''I think it definitely felt good, to get it right off the start and get it on the power play. It was good, but it was a great team effort by everybody.''
Blake Wheeler added an empty-net goal to seal the win. Winnipeg has won three straight and five of six, improving to 3-3 at home.
Wheeler, Ladd and Bryan Little are tied for the team lead with five goals.
Ondrej Pavelec's goaltending and Winnipeg's penalty-killing held off the Predators (7-3-2), who charged hard to get back in the game after falling behind early.
Filip Forsberg scored Nashville's only goal to bring the Predators within 2-1 late in the second period.
''We made a lot of key stops in the third period,'' Scheifele said. ''I think we killed two huge penalties. It just shows the hard work and sacrifice of everyone.''
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said the two quick goals were hard to overcome.
''I really liked the way we started,'' he said, sporting a scab above his right eye from a stray puck he took to the face in the first period. ''The first three minutes we were down in their end and we were pounding, and we ended up taking a penalty.
''A quick goal, and two minutes later another penalty and a quick goal and it's 2-0 and you've got to dig yourself out of a massive hole.''
Forsberg echoed Laviolette's assessment,
''I didn't think we played that bad,'' he said. ''Obviously, they got those two goals at the start. It's tough to get back from that but I think we played hard.
''We just have to get a couple of more bodies in front. There's a lot good goalies in this league, and I think Pavelec, he's one of them. You've just got take his size away a little bit.''
Pavelec and backup Michael Hutchinson, who earned one of two consecutive road shutouts last week, also set a franchise record for stinginess on Tuesday night.
With back-to-back shutouts in New York and Chicago, Winnipeg had gone 161 minutes, 17 seconds without giving up a goal until Forsberg scored at 16:17 of the second period.
It was his fourth goal and 12th point this season. Winnipeg hadn't been scored on since Oct. 30 in New Jersey.
''The power-play goals were huge in the first, and we killed the penalties at the right time,'' Pavelec said. ''We've been way better defensively the whole season long.''
Jets coach Paul Maurice said his team is doing a better job dealing with adversity and handling tight situations - especially late in games.
''It's certainly not a matter of sitting back in the third,'' he said. ''We're looking for that next goal.
''I think we've worked hard at getting rid of the notion that the best thing we can do is try to score every time we touch the puck. Just take care of the 10 feet of ice that's around you.''
Nashville beat the Jets 2-0 in Winnipeg on Oct. 17 in their first home game this season.
The first period was all Jets this time.
Ladd scored his fifth of the season when he redirected Dustin Byfuglien's blast from the blue line past Carter Hutton to make it 1-0 at 2:53 of the first. Little earned his fifth assist of the season.
Scheifele slipped a wrist shot through traffic to make it 2-0 just 5:29 in, with assists going to Wheeler and Evander Kane.
The Predators called a timeout to give Hutton a break. The Predators rested Pekka Rinne and started backup Hutton for the second time this season.
''We know they have a lot of dangerous forwards,'' Hutton said. ''Obviously, back-to-back, we can't give those up. Our penalty kill has to be better, all around, from goaltending to everybody.''
Forsberg put the Predators on the scoreboard in the second just after Winnipeg gave up its first power play. Forsberg's shot appeared to roll over Pavelec's blocker and dribble in behind him.
Before the midpoint of the third, the Predators got even in shots, but Winnipeg put more pressure on Hutton and finished with a 26-24 edge.
Wheeler scored into an empty net at 18:20.
NOTES: The Jets' previous franchise record for not giving up a goal was 151:55, set over four games from Dec. 22-28, 2005 when they were the Atlanta Thrashers. ... The Jets wore lavender-decorated Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys during the warmup. The jerseys are sold to raise money for cancer research and other cancer-related causes. ... Laviolette was struck in the face with a puck in the first period when it went off Jacob Trouba's hand as he was trying to bat it down.