Forsberg, Arvidsson, Rinne Star in Must-Win Game 6 Against Jets
by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator
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Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson both tallied twice and Pekka Rinne made 34 saves as the Nashville Predators shut out the Winnipeg Jets, 4-0, in Game 6 on Monday night. The result sees the Preds even the series for the third time and force a deciding Game 7 on Thursday night in Nashville.
The Predators knew if they were going to have success against the Jets on Game 6, they would need a nearly perfect road game to have a chance to prevail. Their effort on Monday may have been even better than that.
“You always try to say the right things going into a game like this like we’re confident, but our guys truly were,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Just from the way we were built and previous years, last year, certainly this year, in this group, in particular, there’s been a lot of guys in there for a few years. There’s been a lot of work that’s gone into this to make you feel like you’re ready for a game like tonight, where it’s elimination and you have to win in order to be successful. I think our guys handled it really well.”
It only took Arvidsson 1:02 into the contest to redirect a shot – while falling down in the slot – off his stick and through the pads of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. The play was originally ruled no goal due to a high stick, but after Wes McCauley determined the puck hit Arvidsson’s twig below the crossbar, the Preds got their 1-0 lead.
In the second period, the Predators got another. With an assist to Predators Equipment Manager Pete Rogers, who handed a fresh stick to Forsberg moments before he received an atmospheric pass from Craig Smith, Forsberg drove to the net and squeaked one into the twine to give Nashville a 2-0 advantage after 40 minutes of play.
Forsberg wasn’t done, however, and in the final frame, he decided to go between his legs for his second of the evening and evaporate any hopes Winnipeg may have had of a comeback.
Arvidsson iced it into the empty net with his second of the evening as time wound down and Rinne preserved his second shutout of the 2018 playoffs to give the Predators a decisive victory ahead of what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena.
“It’s gonna be wild in Nashville,” Rinne said. “As a player, our job is to just focus on getting ourselves ready to play hockey, but it’s going to be a fun show, too.”
Before the Predators departed for Game 6 on Sunday, Forsberg said one of the reasons he was so confident in his club was the amount of players in the Preds locker room who could step up and make a difference. On Monday, it was Forsberg, himself.
“To be honest with you, it’s the most fun you can have,” Forsberg said. “You can never have more fun than playing these elimination games in Stanley Cup Playoffs and just try to enjoy it as much as possible.”
“I don’t think there’s any question that Fil is a big game player,” Laviolette said. “Tonight, the two goals that he scored kind of exemplified that… And not just Fil was good, you need difference-makers like that in a game when you’re facing with elimination, but I thought our guys in general were good, just the way we approached the game today.”
It’s been said actions speak louder than words. On Monday night in Winnipeg, the Preds were louder than a jet engine.
P.K. Subban said after a loss in Game 5 in Music City the Predators would come back to Manitoba, win Game 6 and then head back to Nashville for one final contest. And then he said it again. And again.
He and his teammates backed that up with authority on Monday night en route to a 4-0 win to do exactly what Subban said he and his mates would accomplish – force the first Game 7 in Bridgestone Arena’s history.
“I said what everybody else in the dressing room was thinking, and we knew right after that game that we were built for this,” Subban said of his guarantee. “We were built to come on the road and win big games and that’s a championship effort tonight. From our team, I can’t say enough good things about this group. It’s the best group of guys that I’ve ever played with, and they’re good people, and that’s the difference in that when you’re in these situations.”
“That’s great that somebody says it and that’s how we feel,” Rinne said of Subban’s statement. “That’s how we felt before the game and… we’ve played too long and too well to be in this situation [and not succeed].”
The Predators have talked about it all season long – the attributes they possess in their locker room and what each and every guy brings to collectively make up that group. So when their backs were against the wall, they decided they weren’t ready to be done yet.
“In these situations, good people understand what’s at stake and go do whatever it takes,” Subban said. “You look down our lineup today from our goaltender out, everybody sacrificed their bodies and did exactly what they had to do to get a win.”
Mike Fisher exited the game after the first period and did not return. Laviolette did not have an update on Fisher’s status following the contest.
With two assists in Game 6, Ryan Johansen tallied his 12th and 13th points of the playoffs to tie his career high in points during a single season, set in 2017.
Game 7 between the Predators and Jets is set for Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena at 7 p.m. CT. It will be Nashville’s third Game 7 in franchise history and their first at home.