The Nashville Predators were facing off against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night for the seventh and final game of their second round series in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was a game to determine which of these two teams would face off against the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final for a chance at winning hockey's Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup.
Unfortunately for the Predators things went about as ad as they could have gone early in the game. They were largely outworked by the Jets through the majority of the first period and, while the Jets didn't get any grade A scoring chances, their work did pay off for them. The Jets had already recorded two goals roughly half way through the first period and it was looking like it was going to be a catastrophic Game 7 for the Predators in front of their home crowd thanks in large part due to the very poor play for star goaltender Pekka Rinne,
Rinne not only gave up the two goals on just 7 shots, but both goals were the kind of goal that you just can't allow in a critical Game 7 of a playoff series. The first from Winnipeg Jet Tyler Myers came at a near impossible angle and demonstrated early on that Rinne was not on top of his game this evening. Rinne should have had the post sealed off long before the shot arrived but it appeared that, despite his vast experience in the NHL, he may have been rattled in the moment. The second goal wasn't much better although it did come off of a solid effort from Winnipeg Jets Paul Stasny. The veteran center circled around the net and put a weak shot on net, but Rinne appeared to battle with the puck nonetheless and then he seemingly lost track of the rebound that he gave up to Stasny. Stasny's second shot was good enough to beat a very shaky Rinne and just like that the Jets were up by 2.
Predators head coach Peter Laviolette had seen enough and he immediately yanked his star goaltender out of the net and immediately put backup goaltender Juuse Saros in net in his place. This was a move that many felt should have been made earlier on in the series after Rinne had poor starts in two of the Predators' losses in this series. The move came with a two goal deficit and the Predators would need a near miraculous comeback in order to get back into this game.
Thankfully for the Predators they got exactly that and it came from a player that has delivered for them big time in this series. It came from none other than flamboyant defenseman P.K. Subban. After delivering on a guarantee earlier in this series Subban once again looked to play the hero by getting his team back into this game, and he did just that. It was a rocket of a shot from Subban that cut the Winnipeg Jets lead in half before the end of the first period, and it was Subban who gave the Predators some hope as they walked back to the locker room during intermission.