The NHL season is a week old and tempers are already flaring. The Nashville Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, but the physical night was highlighted by 76 penalty minutes and an old school hockey fight and a rare line brawl in the second period.
The NHL cleaned up its brutish image by outlawing fighting over the years. But that didn’t prevent the Predators and Jets from throwing off the gloves for an old-fashioned line fight. During the 5 x 5 brawl, two primary fights broke out between Mattias Ekholm vs. Blake Wheeler and Colton Sissons vs. Nikolaj Ehlers.
New Rivalry Born
The Jets knocked out the Predators in the second round of the playoffs last year and won the best of seven series in a back-and-forth seven-game series. Although the Jets advanced to the Western Conference Finals, they were eliminated in five games by the red-hot Las Vegas Knights.
“It’s been a great rivalry,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said about the Jets. “I think it’s really taken hold in the last two or three years.”
Both teams have their eye on the Central title this season, in addition to Stanley Cup aspirations. The first meeting of the new NHL season had a playoff-like atmosphere. The Predators wanted to avenge their early playoff exit.
Old School Hockey Fights
Tensions escalated at the end of the second period. With 4:20 remaining, the Predators objected to Jacob Trouba’s rough play when he crosschecked Miikka Salomaki. A delayed penalty was called, but Salomaki went after Nikolaj Ehlers and a vulnerable Ehlers went down. Trouba confronted Ehlers. At that moment, the rest of the lines jumped in.
Colton Sissons dropped the gloves and squared off against Ehlers. Mattias Ekholm and Blake Wheeler rumbled as well.
Crowded Penalty Box
When the brawl ended, officials doled out five penalties including four majors for fighting and the initial minor penalty for crosschecking. A second brawl almost erupted two minutes later in the second period.
Overall, both teams were penalized a combined 76 minutes. The intense game had more of a playoff atmosphere than an early-season match up.
The next bout in this budding Jets/Predators rivalry is Jan. 17, 2019 when the Jets visit Nashville.
According to the South Point sportsbook in Las Vegas, the Nashville Predators are 8/1 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Winnipeg Jets are 10/1 favorites.