WINNIPEG — Filip Forsberg scored two incredible goals and added an assist, Pekka Rinne made 34 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs and the Nashville Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 on Monday to avoid elimination and tie their second-round series 3-3.
Game 7 goes Thursday in Nashville, with the winner taking on the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final.
Viktor Arvidsson had two goals of his own, including one into an empty net, and set up another for Predators, while Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen chipped in with two assists each.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots for the Jets.
The back-and-forth West semifinal has yet to see a team win consecutive games in a punch/counter-punch affair set to go the distance.
With his Predators up a goal through one period, Forsberg put Nashville ahead by two at 8:44 of the second on a great solo rush for his sixth of the post season.
After breaking his stick in the defensive zone blocking a shot, the Swedish winger raced to the bench to collect a new piece of lumber as the puck almost simultaneously arrived at his feet. Forsberg stayed onside, fought off Jets defenceman Ben Chairot and beat Hellebuyck shortside before crashing into the net.
Winnipeg had made an earlier push coming out of the first intermission, with Paul Stastny’s shot just wide of Rinne’s net the best of the bunch 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 to send the series back to Nashville.
Arvidsson added an empty netter with 4:02 left in regulation.
While disappointed with the result, the Jets will travel to Music City knowing they’ve already won twice there in the series, including a 6-2 victory at Bridgestone Arena in Game 5 after the Predators ground out a 2-1 decision at Bell MTS Place in Game 4 to knot things 2-2.
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 defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. Arvidsson briefly complained to the referee before getting back in the slot just in time to make a self-defence 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, but it was determined after video review that Arvidsson’s stick was below the crossbar on the tip.
After one toothless power play, the Jets got a couple of chances on their next man advantage, but Rinne was there to deny Stastny twice on the doorstep before also stopping a Patrik Laine one-timer.
The home side then got its third power play of the period, but it looked a lot like its first as the Predators went to their locker room up 1-0.
Winnipeg had never seen one of its teams win even a single game in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs before this spring.
The old Jets claimed three WHA titles in the 1970s, but the franchise was swept aside by the Edmonton Oilers in its only two NHL conference semifinal appearances — 1985 and 1987 — before leaving town to become the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996.
The NHL returned to Winnipeg in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to the Manitoba capital, but the new Jets’ first foray into the playoffs in 2015 also resulted in a four-game ouster in the first round at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Predators and Jets finished with the two best records during the regular season — Nashville had 117 points to win its first Presidents’ Trophy, while Winnipeg was right behind with 114 points.
Notes: Teemu Selanne, a member of the original Jets from 1992 to 1996, 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.