Filip Forsberg Xavier Woods Jersey , Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators showed they aren’t ready for their season to end yet.
Forsberg had two goals and an assist, Rinne stopped 34 shots for his second shutout of the playoffs, and the Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 on Monday to force a decisive Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
”Desperation,” Rinne said after his fifth career playoff shutout. ”It just shows that we have a really tight group.”
Viktor Arvidsson also scored twice, including a late empty-netter, and added an assist for the Predators. Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen each had two assists.
After the Jets’ top line combined for eight points in a 6-2 victory in Game 5 in Nashville to take a 3-2 series lead, the Predators No. 1 trio of Forsberg, Arvidsson and Johansen did the same when it mattered most.
”It’s the most fun,” Forsberg said. ”You can never have more fun than playing these elimination games. … Just try to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots for the Jets.
Game 7 in this series in which neither team has won consecutive games is Thursday at Nashville, Tennessee, with the winner advancing to face the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final. Each team has also won twice on the road.
”It’s been back and forth, up and down,” Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said. ”It’s probably right that it’s going seven.”
The Jets finished 0 for 4 on the power play, including three chances in the first period.
”The power play is probably just a microcosm of the way we played Jay Novacek Jersey ,” Winnipeg center Paul Stastny said. ”We probably weren’t moving as well or as sharp as we wanted.”
With the Predators up 1-0 after one period, Forsberg doubled the lead at 8:44 of the second on a great solo rush for his sixth of the postseason. After breaking his stick in the defensive zone blocking a shot, the Swedish forward raced to the bench to get a new one as the puck almost simultaneously arrived at his feet. Forsberg stayed onside, fought off Jets defenseman Ben Chairot and beat Hellebuyck short-side before crashing into the net.
Winnipeg had made an earlier push coming out of the first intermission, with Paul Stastny’s shot just wide being the best chance after Mathieu Perreault’s dump in hit the linesman and caromed into the slot. Stastny also missed from a tight angle off the boards on the follow up on Rinne.
After Forsberg made it 2-0, Rinne was there to stop Adam Lowry with his pad before just getting a piece of Mark Scheifele’s shot on an abbreviated 2-on-1 to keep Nashville up by two.
The Jets got their fourth power play of the night early in the third, but Scheifele fired wide on the best opportunity.
Forsberg then took a pass from behind the net, played it between his own legs and beat Hellebuyck for his second of the night and seventh of the playoffs at 5:55.
”I don’t think there’s any question that Fil’s a big-game player,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ”(The second) goal was just good work by their line, but he had to finish it off. Let’s be honest, none of us in this room can make that play. … You’ve got to give him a lot of credit.”
With Hellebuyck pulled for an extra skater, Arvidsson scored into the empty net with 4:02 left to seal Nashville’s win.
Nashville took the lead just 62 seconds into the first period to quiet the usual rowdy, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place on Arvidsson’s fourth. The speedy winger crashed into the end boards after being taken down by Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Arvidsson briefly complained to the referee before getting back in the slot just in time to make a defensive deflection of a blast from Josi that looked destined to hit him directly in his head as he dropped to the ice.
Referee Wes McCauley initially waved off the goal that bounced past Hellebuyck for high-sticking, but it was determined after video review that Arvidsson’s stick was below the crossbar on the tip.
The Predators and Jets finished with the two best records during the regular season – Nashville had 117 points to win its first Presidents’ Trophy Dre Kirkpatrick Jersey , while Winnipeg was right behind with 114 points.
NOTES: The extra day before Game 7 is due to a Justin Timberlake concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night. … Teemu Selanne, a member of the original Jets from 1992-96, was in attendance. … Predators forward Scott Hartnell returned to the lineup after sitting out Game 5 as a healthy scratch. Calle Jarnkrok also drew in for Nashville on the fourth line with Mike Fisher after sitting out the last three.
His numbers are ordinary. His name is not.
And his potential, that’s still to be proven.
A player who averaged 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in his lone season of college basketball, primarily as a backup for a team that didn’t finish with a winning record, wouldn’t ordinarily seem like much of an NBA draft prospect. But in this case, the player in question is Kostas Antetokounmpo – who believes that he is ready to follow his All-Star brother Giannis into the league.
On Thursday night, he’ll find out which NBA club agrees.
”I feel like when you do a sport, when you do something, you want to be the best at it,” Kostas Antetokounmpo said. ”Since I was little I wanted to be an NBA player. So it’s about time.”
Maybe so, but unlike his brother – the Milwaukee star who might be an MVP candidate for years to come – Kostas Antetokounmpo’s game is nowhere near the elite level.
”He can be really good,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. ”He has a lot of things to work on. But I think he can be really good if he gets with the right team and tries to get better every day.”
The 20-year-old Kostas Antetokounmpo struggled to remain a big part of the rotation at Dayton in his one college season, starting six games early in the year but also playing less than 10 minutes in six others. He had a big game off the bench late in the season to help the Flyers beat Saint Louis Shelby Harris Jersey , and after that game Dayton coach Anthony Grant pointed to that as the sign of what Antetokounmpo can do.
”That’s what he’s capable of,” Grant said, ”when he puts his mind to it.”
The good news for Kostas Antetokounmpo is this: He knows he’s nowhere near a finished product.
He’s 6-foot-10 with long arms, his standing reach extending just 10 inches shy of the rim. But he’s only 195 pounds, needs to work on his strength and missed basically half of his free-throw tries last season.
”I know that I’ve got to let my body get stronger,” he said. ”I’ve got to get my weight up. I’ve got to work on the way I read the game, and my moves.”
If he makes the NBA, Kostas would be the third Antetokounmpo brother to reach the league. Besides Giannis, there was Thanasis – who appeared in two games for the New York Knicks in 2016. And there’s a fourth one on the way, that being 16-year-old Alex, someone who Giannis and Kostas both predict might be the best in the family.
So soon, Alex will likely deal with what Kostas is dealing with now – inevitable comparisons to the more-famous brother.
Kostas and Giannis are built similarly, with their long, lean frames and almost neverending reach. They sound alike in some ways Deyshawn Bond Jersey , but both insist that they do not play the game the same way. It used to be difficult for Kostas to carry the label of `the next Antetokounmpo,’ he said, though over time he thinks he’s been judged more on the merits of his own game.
”Every good player coming up, they’re compared to somebody,” Kostas Antetokounmpo said. ”So I’m used to that. It makes me work harder. If they compare me to a top-10 player in the NBA, I don’t have a problem with that.”
Kostas Antetokounmpo said he expects to immediately contribute at the NBA level, based on the way he can run the floor and his penchant for being able to defend – especially around the rim. He said he tries to emulate not his brother so much, but more along the lines of Kevin Garnett largely because of the way he defended.
He has no idea yet where he’s going to get picked, and some mock drafts have him sliding to the second round.
He insists that won’t matter.
”I feel like I can be an NBA player,” he said. ”I think a lot of teams see me and they see a kid that works hard, a kid that can become a NBA player. First round, second round, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to do what I can do and try to get better.”
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