The Winnipeg Jets won a pivotal game 4 in Minnesota that had plenty of action at both ends of the ice. The game started cautiously by the Winnipeg Jets as they were determined to play a clean 1st period after the disastrous game Sunday evening. Scheifele scored the opening goal to end the first period, and both teams traded chances for the rest of the game. While there were plenty of shots by both squads, the netminders stood tall. The Winnipeg Jets played a great third period and had more chances than the Wild in the final ten minutes of the game. The Jets come home to focus on game 5 where they have a chance for their first ever playoff series win. Most of the thumbs in this game will be pointing up due to the great game from a number of Jets players.
Thumbs up to Connor Hellebuyck. The biggest question mark of game 4 was about Connor Hellebuyck. How would he respond after a poor performance in game 3? The answer is that Hellebuyck would play absolutely fantastic. He was great throughout the game but his best save was on Matt Dumba during a 3 on 1 chance. Hellebuyck came sliding across the crease to rob a sure goal and preserve the one goal lead. Hellebuyck topped the night off with a shutout, the first in franchise playoff history.
Thumbs up to Mark Scheifele. In a game where the goals were hard to come by, Scheifele was the only player to find the back of the net. The first was a nice shot in the slot from a Kyle Connor pass, and the second was the insurance marker into the empty cage. The top line of Scheifele, Connor, and Wheeler had their best game of the series and were the most dangerous line all night. They were fast, controlled the puck, and ended up being the only line to score in the game.
Thumbs down to Josh Morrissey. Josh Morrissey played quite well during the game and had a great poke check in the 2nd period to prevent a scoring chance. The only reason for the thumbs down is the cross check to the head of Staal on the penalty kill. It doesn’t seem like Morrissey was intending to hurt Staal, rather, he was trying to hit Staal in the numbers and Staal turned his body away. Hopefully there is no fine or suspension for a bad hit in an otherwise strong game.
Thumbs up to Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien was engaged all night and had numerous rushes and smart pinches. He had another big hit behind his own net on Greenway, and played solid defensively all game.
Thumbs down to not scoring goals. The Winnipeg Jets got plenty of chances including two 2 on 1’s and a partial breakaway all in the third period. Unfortunately they could not capitalize on any of these chances and it remained a one goal game. Once the Wild pulled their goalie, the Jets didn’t fare much better. After getting a clean faceoff win and zone exit, the Jets failed to score on a wide open net three different times with just over a minute to go. Luckily, Scheifele sealed the deal with 10 seconds left, but there were some anxious moments that could have been avoided by capitalizing on their chances.
Thumbs up to the young players in the Jets lineup. Many of the Jets’ youngsters had really good games. Ehlers looked dangerous during numerous rushes up the ice. Laine had a few good shots including a partial breakaway in the last five minutes of the game. Roslovic had a really good game as well and had one moment where he carried the puck in the offensive zone for 10-15 seconds while circling the net and looking for passing lanes. It was a veteran type of play by the rookie skater.
Thumbs down to the zone exits for the Winnipeg Jets. For the most part the Jets exited their defensive end fairly well during game 4. However, there were a few opportunities where the Wild repeatedly kept the puck in and almost tied the game. Jacob Trouba had the most trouble when his breakout pass got tipped and intercepted at the blueline. This failed exit led to a great chance in front of the net by the Wild. The Jets have to be more careful when protecting a lead in the third period and sometimes just need to play it safe.
Lastly, thumbs up to Tucker Poolman. It was Poolman’s turn to make his NHL playoff debut. While his role was very limited (8:17 TOI), he played a simple game and didn’t make any mistakes. He also finished the game with 3 shots on goal including a dangerous looking point-shot in the first period.