Here are three things to watch as the Predators prepare for Game 2 of their second-round playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday (6 p.m., NBC SN/102.5-FM):
The shot totals Friday were somewhat misleading. The Predators weren’t dismayed by their Game 1 loss because they compiled 48 shots to the Jets’ 19, but the quality didn’t match the volume.
Much of the Predators’ offense originates from the outside on point shots from the team’s defensemen. That’s by design.
When it works, the forwards feast on second-chance opportunities. The Jets prevented that from happening Friday, steering rebounds out of dangerous areas. The Predators also didn’t do enough to obstruct Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s vision.
“I thought we played at a pace that was probably our fastest of the playoffs,” Predators defenseman P.K. Subban said. “If we play at that pace the rest of the playoffs, I like our chances every game.”
The Predators’ loss Friday was their second in four home playoff games, equaling their total from last postseason when they posted a 9-2 record at Bridgestone Arena.
It goes without saying that Game 2 on Sunday is of critical importance.
The Jets, who were the NHL’s best home team this season with 32 victories, have won 12 consecutive games at Bell MTS Place dating to a Feb. 27 loss to the Predators.
If the Predators are unable to tie this series Sunday, then their chances of winning it will plummet.
“Every game is a must-win, right? It’s the playoffs,” Subban said. “You don’t ever say that you can lose a game in the playoffs. But (Sunday) is a great opportunity for us to bounce back and even the series.”
After exiting Friday’s loss in the first period, Predators forward Austin Watson practiced Saturday. He skated with linemates Colton Sissons and Nick Bonino, which suggests that he could play Sunday.
Watson and Predators coach Peter Laviolette were cagey about Watson’s status when asked after practice. Laviolette said that the Predators “don’t have anything to report” on Watson, which usually is his way of saying that the player in question is OK.