Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 19 News List

Johansen stays hot as Predators down Jets

AP, WINNIPEG, Manitoba

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov, center, flips the puck past Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop during their game in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday.

Photo: AP

Coach Paul Maurice does not think his Winnipeg Jets are desperate.

With a 4-1 loss at home on Thursday night to the Nashville Predators, the Jets are 21-23-3 and their playoff hopes are dimming as they remain at the bottom of the NHL Central Division and six points away from a post-season spot.

“I don’t think desperate hockey has any sense to it,” Maurice said. “Urgency? Listen, I’m not sure that they didn’t play as hard as they could, but we could play a little smarter and we could pass the puck better. I know that, but clearly we’re in a tough spot here now with the losses that are mounting here at home.”

Ryan Johansen kept up his hot play since being traded with a goal and an assist. Johansen has four goals and nine points in seven games since his trade from Columbus on Jan. 6.

Craig Smith, James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok, with an empty-netter, also scored for the Predators.

Rookie Nikolaj Ehlers scored his ninth goal of the season for Winnipeg, who have dropped two straight to start a six-game homestand.

Ehlers scored 4 minutes, 16 seconds into the first period after getting behind Nashville’s defense, picking up a long, breakaway pass from Joel Armia and flipping the puck past Pekka Rinne, who made 26 saves.

“It definitely hurts,” Ehlers said. “We played a pretty good game; a full 60 minutes. We had some good chances and weren’t able to execute.”

“It was a great team win, a good way to start off what is going to be a tough road trip and a tough few games coming up,” Neal said. “A team that’s right behind us in the standings, so it was a huge win.”

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 24 for the Jets.

Nashville capitalized on a kneeing penalty to Jets winger Anthony Peluso to tie it 1-1 16 minutes, 39 seconds into the first.

Johansen scored his ninth goal of the season on a power play when he jammed the puck in on the short side from behind the goal line.

Nashville took a 2-1 lead in the second period when Smith’s shot from inside the faceoff circle went high past a partly screened Hellebuyck for his 10th goal at 5 minutes, 4 seconds.

Winnipeg had an 18-17 edge in shots on goal heading into the third.

Neal scored his 17th goal at 18 minutes, 8 seconds when Johansen won the faceoff and sent the puck to him out in front. Jarnkrok added the empty-netter 25 seconds later.

“If we’re a good enough team to outshoot them 11-2 even strength in the second period, then you’ve got to be a good enough team to win the game,” Maurice said.

In Tampa, Florida, Nikita Kucherov broke a second-period tie with his 20th goal as the streaking Tampa Bay Lightning ended Chicago’s franchise-record 12-game winning run with a 2-1 win victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions.

The win was the seventh straight for the Lightning — one away from a team record — and gave the defending Eastern Conference champions a split of the season series with the Blackhawks, who won last year’s Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay in six games.

Ben Bishop had 17 saves as the Blackhawks were held to a season-low 18 shots. Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots to keep the Blackhawks in the game, but it was not enough to extend a career-best nine-game winning streak for the Chicago goaltender.

Anton Stralman scored in the first period, while Victor Hedman had two assists for the Lightning. Artem Anisimov scored Chicago’s lone goal in the opening minute of the game.

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