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Jones scores late game-winner for Predators

by Arpon Basu /

MONTREAL -- To a man, everyone on the Nashville Predators uses the same word when describing rookie defenseman Seth Jones: poise.

Jones exhibited it again Saturday, pinching in from his spot on the point to take a David Legwand pass, toe dragging around Montreal Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges and scoring on goaltender Carey Price at 18:33 of the third period to give the Predators a 2-1 victory at Bell Centre.

"You guys saw it for yourselves," said Shea Weber, Jones' defense partner who also scored. "It was a great play. Great pass by [Legwand], he saw him cut down in the slot, and he made a great fake on Price."

That poise was not quite as evident when Jones celebrated his first career game-winner, showing the exuberance a 19-year-old should after he just won the game for his team with 87 seconds to play in front of 21,273 spectators.

It was a highlight Jones said compared favorably with the first goal of his career, Oct. 12 at home against the New York Islanders.

"It was a great one," Jones said, still smiling about 15 minutes later. "The first one was obviously awesome at home with the home fans, but this one was right up there with it, I'll tell you that. It's awesome it was a game-winner with a minute-and-a-half left, and also my first game in Canada. It felt good."

Though it may be easy for the Predators to sometimes forget how young Jones is because of how well he is handling the top pair with Weber and logging massive minutes on the blue line, including 27:29 Saturday, Weber said the enthusiasm Jones showed after he scored is nice to see.

"You talk about how poised he is and everything, but at the same time he's still a kid," Weber said. "He loves the game; you saw the joy in his eyes when he scored. He loves the game and he wants to make a difference. Tonight he did."

It was the first victory on the road in three tries this season for the Predators (4-3-1), who are 3-0-1 in their past four games.

Pekka Rinne was outstanding in goal for the Predators to keep the game tied 1-1 in the third and give Jones a chance to win it, finishing with 28 saves, including 12 on 12 shots in the third.

"I think the first two periods we put a lot of pressure on their net and Price was playing extremely well. In the third we killed some huge penalties," Rinne said. "It's a big win for us, our first road win this year. It's a huge win."

Brendan Gallagher scored for Montreal (5-3-0), which saw its four-game winning streak end. Price made 35 saves and kept the Canadiens in the game with 29 saves on 30 shots through two periods.

The Canadiens recovered to outshoot the Predators 12-7 in the third and controlled much of the play, but it was a little too late for coach Michel Therrien's liking.

"We played our best period in the third, we played an aggressive period, which has been our strength since the start of the season," Therrien said. "We didn't have that at the start of the game. The Predators came here and imposed their rhythm on the game, and we had to adjust to it. Over the second half of the game we started to get better, and I have nothing against the way we played in the third."

The line of Gallagher, Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk was again Montreal's best, combining for 14 of the Canadiens' 29 shots, including a career-high nine from Gallagher.

"They attack the net," Therrien said. "They have an incredible work ethic. They're always on the puck, they're able to find each other, and they do good things."

The Predators were missing center Mike Fisher, who was out with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. The Canadiens, already without forward Max Pacioretty (hamstring), lost right wing Daniel Briere early in the second period after he sustained a concussion on a collision with Predators forward Eric Nystrom.

Montreal lost forward Brandon Prust to an upper-body injury with just under eight minutes remaining after he fell into the end boards awkwardly.

The Predators were frustrated after their 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings at home on Thursday, that their 35 shots on Jonathan Quick resulted in one goal. They appeared intent on rectifying it Saturday, but ran into an equally hot goalie.

The Predators had an 11-1 lead in shots just past the midway point of the first period and held a 1-0 lead after Weber's shot from the faceoff circle banked in off Gorges' leg. The goal was scored as the first penalty of a 5-on-3 advantage came to an end.

It appeared to spark the Canadiens; they finished the period strong, but Nashville began peppering Price with shots again in the second with no results. They had 16 shots on goal to Montreal's 11, yet it was the Canadiens who tied it in at 7:02 on a great play by Eller.

The Montreal center cut hard to the net fending off a Nashville defender with one hand while getting a weak shot on Rinne with the other. The shot created a rebound, and after Michael Bournival took one whack at it, Gallagher put it in off the scramble for his fourth goal of the season.

Rinne made sure the score remained tied just over a minute later when Eller set up Galchenyuk all by himself in front, but he was turned aside by Rinne's blocker.

After being outshot 30-17 in two periods, the Canadiens came out for the third more aggressively and controlled the play early. It appeared to pay off at 1:35 of the period when Eller flipped a shot toward a fallen Rinne and referee Chris Rooney pointed to indicate a goal.

After video review, Rooney said the goal was waved off because all four officials determined the puck had not crossed the line. The NHL later clarified that following the original call, the four officials huddled and made that determination, which could not be overturned by video review because replays were inconclusive.

Eller didn't agree.

"In my opinion, the puck was inside [the net]," Eller said. "He had his glove on it, so technically you can't see it, but when you see it's not outside the line, it's got to be inside. It's logic."

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