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Slumping Jets lose in OT to Predators


NASHVILLE—After his Finnish countryman scored on him once, Pekka Rinne was not going to let it happen again in overtime.

Rinne made a big save against Patrik Laine before James Neal scored 2:11 into the extra period to give the Nashville Predators a 5-4 victory over the slumping Winnipeg Jets last night.

With the Predators on a power play, Neal made a head fake at the right face-off dot and drifted toward the low slot before firing a wrist shot past Jets' goalie Connor Hellebuyck to the far side.

Neal scored in consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 22-24.

“Of course when you score, your confidence is going to rise,” Neal noted.

“When I wasn't getting the chances, the shots or the looks, that's when you have to go back and look at your game, and keep it simple,” he stressed.

"When you get the looks, you get the confidence and you know you're going to score, just a matter of time.

“They do come in bunches and when you're feeling it, you're kind of in the zone and I felt good tonight,” Neal added.

Just 12 seconds before Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien was whistled for hooking at 1:37 to set up Nashville's game-winner, Rinne denied Laine on a breakaway from just outside the crease after Laine had stickhandled through all three Predators' skaters on the ice.

“It came kind of quickly so I didn't do anything fancy and just tried to find a hole,” Laine noted.

“I was too close to the goalie and obviously, he's one of the best goalies in the league, so he knew what I was going to do and he got it.”

Rinne finished with 30 saves.

“He had all the momentum after dangling those guys,” Rinne said.

“He's an impressive young player. I'm very happy for him, especially since he's a Finn,” added Rinne.

“When he came down, I think at that point you just wait for his move," he reasoned. ”[And] this time I was able to make the save.

“He got one by me in the second period so I wasn't happy about that.”

Austin Watson, Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg, and Ryan Johansen also scored for Nashville in its second-straight win.

Blake Wheeler, Byfuglien, Laine, and Joel Armia scored for Winnipeg, which now has lost four-straight.

Hellebuyck made 37 saves.

“It's difficult to get excited,” said Jets' coach Paul Maurice.

“We can score some goals and we know that," he noted. ”[But] we had a difficult time keeping them out of our net.

“I think we started right and had a good pace to our game," Maurice added. ”I didn't like the number of times we didn't get pucks in the third period.

“It took our offensive game away a little bit. That's about it.”

“In the second period, we just fell apart, lost our swagger defensively, and didn't play a very good period,” noted Nashville coach Peter Laviolette.

“We addressed a few things after the second period and I thought we were real good in the third.”

Elsewhere in the NHL, Calgary nipped Pittsburgh 4-3 (SO), Boston doubled Vancouver 6-3, Columbus beat Philadelphia 5-3, and Tampa Bay edged the N.Y. Rangers 3-2.

Carolina dumped the N.Y. Islanders 8-4, Arizona shaded Colorado 1-0, and St. Louis downed L.A. 3-1.

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