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Photo Credit: © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

2018 Playoff Recap: Winnipeg Jets Vs Nashville Predators (Part 2)

The Winnipeg Jets just wrapped up their most successful season in franchise history. They set a new franchise record for points during the regular season finishing with a record of 52-20-10 which put them second in the league. That same success carried over into the playoffs as they won the franchise’s first postseason game. They didn’t stop at one game as they moved past the first two rounds and made it all the way to the conference finals.

Even though they lost to the Golden Knights with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line, this playoff run should be celebrated. The point of this series is to look back at the 2018 playoffs because this historic season deserves to be remembered. 

Make sure to check out Part One of the Nashville recap for the story on the match-up as well as the first four games.

 

Game Review

As the series shifted back to Nashville for game five, both teams had earned a split on the road and neither had gained any momentum to carry forward. This time there were no goals in the first period but a strong second period had the Jets in the lead once again.

Looking at the regular season, the Jets scored their most goals in the second period. They scored 94 goals in the second period compared to 92 in the first and 82 in the third. It should be no surprise that the Jets continued this trend in the playoffs by routinely scoring multiple goals in the second period. In this game they scored four goals in the second frame while giving up only two. They held the lead in the third which gave them a chance to close out the series at home in game six.

The fans packed the arena and the street, as was customary for all home games, and were hoping to witness the potential handshake line after the game signalling the end of the series. This was a huge game as the Jets had a chance to move on to the conference finals and keep making history for the team. The game got off to a rocky start as Arvidsson scored the opening goal a minute into the game. For once the Jets didn’t have a successful second period and they fell behind by a second goal.

Just like game four the Predators fell back into their neutral zone trap and didn’t allow the Jets any time or space in the offensive end. The Predators played a great game on the road and forced a decisive game seven back in Nashville.

Game seven is what everyone wanted since the series began two weeks previous. Although most of the games weren’t necessarily close, a deciding game is always cause for more excitement than normal. Nashville was coming off a great game in Winnipeg where they shut out the Jets and the sense was that whoever scored the first goal would win the game. Nashville was excellent at protecting the lead with their neutral zone play which meant Winnipeg desperately needed to play with the lead.

The Jets got off to a quick start as Connor nearly scored on a wrap-around in the first minute of the game. From that very first save Rinne had difficulty tracking the puck. Although Rinne looked shaky early on it was Nashville who had an opportunity to get themselves on the board first.

 

Turning Point

The Jets struggled on the penalty kill throughout most of the series. PK Subban scored a power play goal in games two, three, and four. Subban continually looked dangerous with his booming shot and it cost the Jets multiple times in previous games. Game seven was on the verge of disaster as Copp went to the box just over three minutes into the game. If the Predators scored an early goal, everyone knew they could sit tight and hang on with their neutral zone trap that stymied the Jets. This was a huge opportunity for Nashville, but the Jets were able to hold on and kill off the man advantage which was the turning point in the game.

This penalty kill flipped the momentum as Myers opened the scoring five minutes later and gave the Jets the early lead. This shot beat Rinne from a really bad angle and left Nashville with a bad taste in their mouth. The momentum swing was complete just over two minutes later as Stastny beat Rinne on a wrap-around up high. Rinne began to move across the crease assuming Stastny was passing the puck. Stastny saw a slight opening and put it over the shoulder of Rinne to put the Jets up by two in the first period. Rinne got pulled for the third time in the series as he gave up two weak goals and had his team down in the biggest game of the year.

Subban did end up scoring on the power play later in the period but the damage was already done. The Jets had the lead going into the second period where they had dominated all series long. As the game progressed it was Scheifele who put the series away. Scheifele scored late in the second period on a beautiful feed from Wheeler to regain the two goal advantage heading into the third period. Stastny added a power play goal in the third, but it was Scheifele who once again scored the final goal of the series as he guided the puck into the empty net. The Jets continued to make history and were off to the conference finals after beating the first place team in the NHL.

Top Performers

Mark Scheifele – Scheifele had seven goals in seven games and was dominant all series long. He continually carried the play and always created chances when on the ice.

Paul Stastny – Stastny had five goals and five assists and was scoring at the most important times. He started the comeback in game three and scored two goals in game seven.

Brandon Tanev – After scoring 10 goals in the last two season combined, he had 3 goals in the seven game series. He looked dangerous all series and gave the Jets some much needed scoring depth.