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Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund lead Predators over Jets to stop skid

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Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund lead Predators over Jets to stop skid

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Ryan Johansen and Mikael Granlund each scored a goal and assisted another to lead the Nashville Predators against the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Thursday night.

Eeli Tolvanen, Luke Kunin and Tanner Jeannot also scored for Nashville, which halted a four-game skid. Roman Josi had two assists and Juuse Saros made 36 saves.

“I think we got off to a good start, got a good lead,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “We took penalties in the second period and then I thought in the third period Winnipeg played really hard.”

Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 18 shots. Josh Morrissey added two assists.

Tolvanen scored 4:43 into the first period after deflecting Matt Benning’s shot off the post. The rebound landed on his stick and he buried it in a wide-open net for his sixth goal of the season and first since Dec. 10.

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Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Winnipeg Jets in the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday Jan. 20, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Winnipeg disputed the goal, saying play should have been stopped due to Tolvanen’s initial deflection played with a high stick. A video review confirmed the on-ice call.

Granlund made it 2-0 at 11:49 from first with a wrist shot from the right circle that deflected Jets defenseman Neal Pionk, who had dropped to his knees in an attempt to block the shot.

Johansen wrapped up the first-period score for Nashville, pressing a wrist shot between Hellebuyck’s pads at 17:35.

“They had some urgency, they got the pucks on the goal line, they did what we wanted to do,” Jets interim coach Dave Lowry said. “They got off to a good start.”

Dubois put Winnipeg on the scoreboard at 6:41 of the second.

With the Jets up two men, Dubois’ cross pass was deflected by Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier, who slid in an attempt to block it.

“In the second half we just took too many penalties, played a lot of shorthanded minutes,” Josi said.

Kunin restored Nashville’s three-goal lead at 12:22, but Scheifele’s goal 25 seconds into the third sent the Jets back within two.

Jeannot added an empty net in the last minute.

“I really liked our third period,” Scheifele said. “We had more time in the O zone, we had the puck deep, we did simple things and got a lot of chances. Saros made some big saves. It’s hard to get out of a hole like that.

HEAD OF ASSISTANCE

Nashville captain Josi assisted on Granlund’s first-half goal. The assist was the 357th of Josi’s career, putting him past David Legwand for most in franchise history.

It didn’t take long for Josi to put some more distance between himself and Legwand, as he assisted on Johansen’s goal six minutes after setting the record.

Thursday was career game No. 720 for Josi, all with the Predators. Legwand, the team’s first draft pick when it entered the NHL in 1998, set his mark in 956 games with the Predators.

“Yeah, that’s really cool, definitely,” Josi said. “I’ve been very lucky to play here for so long, in this great city in front of our great fans, an incredible organization.”

THE RETURN OF EKHOLM

Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm returned to the roster after missing three games, all losses in Nashville, under COVID-19 protocol. Going into the game, Ekholm ranked second on the Predators in average ice time. His 23:20 per game trails only Josi’s 25:05 among Nashville skaters.

Ekholm played a team-best 25:21 on Thursday.

FOLLOWING

Jets: Visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Predators: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund lead Predators over Jets to stop skid

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