Winning a matinee game is a rarity for the Predators. Securing a 1-0 shutout in Winnipeg with the 2019-2020 version of Juuse Saros between the pipes is almost inconceivable- until today.
Saros- who has a far-from-impressive .892 save percentage- stopped all 28 of the Jets' shots to record his first shutout of the season. He made a crucial save on Andrew Copp's first period breakaway, setting the tone for a game full of goalie heroics. I mean, Pekka Rinne scored a goal on Thursday, so why wouldn't Juice be able to carry over the mojo?
This afternoon's game is the lowest scoring of the Preds' season so far; their first single-goal game since Mar. 25, 2019 in Minnesota. The general lack of offense on both sides of the ice comes as a surprise; the Preds are tied with four other teams for the seventh-most Goals For in the league, and the Jets sit 16th in the league in the same category. Additionally, the Preds sit second in the league in Total Goals, averaging 6.74 (GF+Goals Against) per game prior to today. The Jets are 12th with 6.13 per game.
The minimal scoring caused Roman Josi's point streak to snap at 12 games, with Kyle Turris and Yakov Trenin being the only players to record points on either side. This was Turris' first goal since the Dec. 3 overtime loss in Tampa Bay. Trenin is staying hot with four points in five games and earning more respect each day with his powerful backcheck and authoritative possessions. Besides his critical assist today, Trenin also had three shots, four hits, and three blocks.
The Preds managed to hold Winnipeg's top two scorers- Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor- to just one shot apiece. Connor has been a notorious thorn in the Preds' side; in just his last 10 regular season games against Nashville, he has a crushing 12 points. Holding him to a single shot all game shows the Preds have put more diligent study into Connor's playing style and were able to counteract accordingly. They played smart, defensive-minded hockey this afternoon, and it showed.
All things considered, however, this was a significant win. The Preds had dropped their last four matches against the Jets, dating back to January of 2019. Winnipeg is also the team the Preds are now trying to lap in the Central Division. With the win today, the Preds are now behind the Jets by just three points in the standings.
The Preds weren't able to convert their lone power play opportunity today, but they also stifled both of the Jets' PP opportunities.
Here's to hoping the Titans' aura of success will rub off on this Preds team!
The Preds will head from Manitoba to Alberta to play the Oilers on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The Oilers started out very strong this season, but have since slipped to 14th overall.
Their power play (and offense in general) is quarterbacked by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl- both of whom are leading the league in points, with 71 and 70, respectively. Thanks to the pair, Edmonton's power play leads the league with a 29.29 percent conversion rate, and their penalty kill ranks eighth with an 82.71 percent kill rate. The fortunate part of this story is that McDavid and Draisaitl lead the Oilers in points by... a lot. The next highest scorer for Edmonton is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has 40 fewer points than his neighbor Draisaitl. Beyond that, everyone else is middling.