Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

JNGD.S8.G75 Recap: Connor Scores Hat-Trick, Connor Posts Shutout, Jets Beat Predators 5-0

Surely the Jets left Nevada Thursday evening with their heads hung low after not only getting blanked by the Vegas Golden Knights with a score of 5-0 but also missing an opportunity to clinch their own play off spot and be the 4th team to do that this season. Tonight, they get the chance to not only secure that playoff spot, but create some additional distance between themselves and Nashville. Earlier this afternoon, Nashville’s clinching scenarios were defeated by the Colorado Avalanche’s win against Chicago.

First period

A very fast paced game that saw only six stoppages in the first period and some great shot attempts to from Laine and Ehlers. Laine’s attempt to set up Hayes would have been a beautiful goal but that Rinne was not prepared for at all, unfortunately Hayes over skated the pass and missed the puck entirely.  Ehlers had a few solid attempts, one being a really great two-on-one chance that saw him draw a penalty out of fan favorite PK Subban. The Jets get the first power play of the game, but the lackluster power play saw no shots on goal. The rest of the period remained just as explosive but scoreless.

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Shots were 12-8 in Nashville’s favor at the end of the first frame.

Second period

Two minutes into the game, a puck was dumped next to the benches hitting one of the Jets as a line change was being completed. The Jets should have had a penalty here but was waved off by the officials despite Laviolette’s protest.  The first goal of the game goes to the Predators when Jarnkrok tips a shot from Ekholm passed Hellebuyck but the play is reviewed for being deflected into the net by a high stick. After review, the refs agree that this is no goal and we go back to a scoreless game. The Jets use this disallowed goal to increase the intensity in their game and have a few good looks at the net but it’s Kyle Connor who undresses PK Subban and then outsmarts Pekka Rinne to pocket the first official goal of the game.

Andrew Copp makes it 2-0 after a missed opportunity on an open net, but turns around and banks a shot from the corner off of Rinne and into the net. Nasvhille tries to rally and should have had an immediate answer back but Forsberg hits the post of an empty net as Hellebuck attempts to recover from an earlier save.

With five minutes left in the game, we take a breather to make sure there’s no shenanigans in Rinne’s net after he knocks the post off for the second time this period. After an intense drilling session it seems to be fixed, and Hayes wastes no time testing out the repair job by forcing Rinne into the corner to seal the net. Rinne might have been a little sensitive after being booed for the net issues and doesn’t seal the corner completely, Hayes most definitely capitalizes on making it 3-0.

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Beyond the 3 that found the back of the net, the Jets dominated this period with some incredible attempts and out shot the Preds 19-8.

Third Period

Nashville comes out blazing into the Jets zone, looking to score but falling short. None the less, Hellebuyck sees some action before the puck gets cleared and sent back into Nashville’s zone to pepper Rinne with several solid shot attempts. No goals were scored, but the crowd loved the applied pressure and a wave was attempted but ended before it really got started. At this point it, the Jets should have about 6 goals but we can’t forget that Rinne hasn’t hit peak playoff form just yet, he’s still having a great game despite the 3 he’s let in.

With 10 minutes left in the game, Jarnkrok gives the Jets another power play after he gets caught tripping. Scheifele gets a great shot on net, but is foiled yet again by Rinne. Laine and Trouba also have shots on net before Nashville clears the zone. While no goals were scored on this power play it went infinitely better than the one in the first period.

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Hayes continues to make magic on the second line after capitalizing on Jarnkrok and Irwin skating into each other and turning over the puck, he sets up Kyle Connor who has been an absolute force of nature tonight. This is Connor’s 31st goal this season and he has now tied his record from last year.

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Why stop there? With 20 seconds left,  Kyle Connor pockets one last goal after being set up by Hayes yet again. This is Connor’s first career hat trick and he had better be taking Hayes out for a steak dinner tonight after another beautiful set up.