NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One day after Thanksgiving, Nashville’s forwards were thankful for Mike Fisher’s generosity.
Colin Wilson and Ryan Johansen scored twice, Fisher added three assists and Nashville beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-1 on Friday night.
James Neal also scored and Pekka Rinne made 22 saves for Nashville, winners of three straight. The Predators continued their home dominance, improving to 8-1-1.
“Right now, I think our guys are doing a good job defensively, and because of that, good things are happening offensively,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re getting out of our end, we’re making good decisions through the neutral zone, that allows us to play in the offensive zone.”
Wilson snapped a 12 game goal drought.
“Tonight I was just going back door and Fish was finding me, so I’m thankful for that,” Wilson said. “He was making great plays. When he is seeing the ice like that and you know that a player is on, it is nice to be playing with. You know if you get to an area, he’s going to get it to you.”
Dustin Byfuglien scored for Winnipeg. The Jets concluded their five-game trip, losing all five games. They scored just six goals and allowed 20 on the trip.
“When things start snowballing, sometimes it’s tough to reverse course,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “I think we just kind of have our game in neutral right now. We’ve got to kick it into overdrive.”
Byfuglien opened the scoring with 5:14 remaining in the opening period. His wrist shot from the right point deflected off of Wilson’s stick and beat Rinne high to the glove side. After getting his skate tangled with Fisher, Rinne fell forward as the puck sailed over his shoulder.
Wilson tied it at 5:39 of the second. Fisher had the puck on the right boards near the faceoff circle and sent a pass to Wilson in front, where he had an easy tap-in for his third of the season. The three assists equaled a career high for Nashville’s captain.
“We’re just going to have to play fairly close to perfect mentally,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “That first goal that we gave up, we’ve got two guys behind the net. We just can’t. We don’t have that margin for error right now.”
Johansen followed 1:08 later on the power play.
Fisher sent a pass from the right faceoff dot to Johansen at the left dot, where he beat goalie Connor Hellebuyck with a one-timer. Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves.
Rinne’s toughest stop came against fellow Finn Patrik Laine at 9:29 of the second. Rinne was able to kick away Laine’s snap shot from the right side.
“He has such a great shot,” Rinne said of his World Cup teammate. “That was his only chance tonight. They didn’t have much to be honest with you. We played a solid game.”
Neal made it 3-1 with 2:06 remaining in the second on the power play.
With 2 seconds remaining in major boarding penalty assessed to Winnipeg’s Brandon Tanev, Neal’s wrist shot from the left faceoff dot sailed toward the Jets net. In the slot, Jets defenceman Mark Stuart tried to swat the puck out of midair, but tipped it over Hellebuyck’s shoulder and into the net.
Neal did not return to the ice following the second period. The team announced the he was out with an upper-body injury.
Tanev’s penalty was committed against Nashville’s Colton Sissons, who did not return to the game following the hit.
Laviolette did not have an update on Neal or Sissons following the game.
Wilson scored his second of the game at 2:13 of the third and Johansen struck again at 8:15.
NOTES: Predators D Ryan Ellis missed the game with an upper-body injury. He was replaced by Anthony Bitetto, who missed Nashville’s last 18 games with an upper-body injury sustained in the season opener. … Nashville has scored at least one power-play goal in each of its last four games. … The Jets are 3-12-1 when trailing after two periods this season. … The Jets have allowed 32 goals in the second period this season while scoring just 14 of their own in the middle frame.
UP NEXT: The teams will meet again Sunday in Winnipeg.