Pionk's OT goal leads Jets over Predators 3-2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Neal Pionk scored 55 seconds into overtime to give the Winnipeg Jets a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
Nikolaj Ehlers and Adam Lowry also scored and Connor Hellebuyck made 18 saves for Winnipeg, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Josh Morrissey had two assists.
“We played well enough to win that in regulation,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “Give their goaltender (credit), he was outstanding. We were really happy with our overall team game for 60 minutes.”
Cody Glass and Luke Evangelista scored and Juuse Saros made 30 saves for the Predators, who have lost two straight.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “Big magnitude game, lot of guys playing in the first game of that magnitude in the NHL. I thought our guys battled really hard. I’m proud of them.”
The Predators trail Winnipeg by five points in the chase for the Western Conference’s second wild-card berth, though Nashville has played three fewer games.
“Obviously, you’d love to win in regulation, take all two,” Lowry said. “If we take care of business on our end, we play them again, we’ll put ourselves in the driver’s seat to control our own destiny.”
In overtime, Pionk was able to get a tap-in off of a shot attempt from Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Just 34 seconds after Ehlers tied the game at 1 early in the third with a slap shot from the top of the left circle, Evangelista took a feed from Tommy Novak in the low slot and banked a shot off of Hellebuyck and into the net. Novak has points in five consecutive games.
Lowry converted the rebound of a Morrissey shot at 10:15 of the third.
“We stuck with it and I thought we started to generate more as the game went on, make plays when they were there,” Morrissey said.
Glass scored the game’s first goal at 5:26 of the opening period. Cal Foote’s shot from the right point hit traffic in front of the Winnipeg net. Just outside the crease on the right side, Glass swatted the bouncing puck past Hellebuyck.
“Obviously you’d like two (points), but you got to take what you can get,” Glass said. “We’re still three games in hand or whatever it is. We need to string along a couple wins here and really just come together.”
Philip Tomasino also assisted on Glass’ goal, extending his point-scoring streak to four games, which equals a career high.
Predators captain Roman Josi did not return following the first period. Josi was credited with 10:06 of ice time in the first period and one shot on goal.
The Predators did not have an update postgame and stated they would likely know more Sunday.
“It’s really challenging,” Hynes said. “No one can fill Roman’s role, the amount of ice time he plays with, obviously the natural skill and ability to generate offense, break the puck out of the zone. You have to try to divide it up as best you can.”
Predators: Visit the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Jets: Visit the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
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Jim Diamond, The Associated Press