With a 5-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday, the Winnipeg Jets punched their ticket to the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The victory in Game Five marked the first playoff series win for the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise. It was decided as decisively as possible, with the Wild unable to muster a single goal in the last seven periods of hockey and the Jets driving the point home with goals from five different players.
On Friday, goals came from Jacob Trouba, Bryan Little, Brandon Tanev, Joel Armia, and Mark Scheifele. For Scheifele, it was his fourth goal of the series.
And for the Jets, it was a sure thing.
“It’s a good feeling for this town right now,” said Matt Hendricks. “In my opinion, we’ve got a darned good team. We’ve got depth, we’ve got key players in key positions who have met or exceeded expectations. We’ve got a good thing going here.”
Without a doubt.
The play of goalie Connor Hellebuyck has been astonishing, for one. He picked up his second straight shutout Friday, stopping all 30 Wild shots.
Winnipeg was dominant as a team, too. In the deciding contest, they dominated in the faceoff circle, held Minnesota off on the power play, scored on 50 percent of their own power plays, delivered twice as many hits, and blocked twice as many shots. More or less.
The Jets even chased Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk after four first period goals. They never let up after that, even if Alex Stalock stood up well enough when he was put in. By then, it was too late and Winnipeg was on its way to shutting down the intersection of Portage and Main for a shindig of epic proportions.
“I think we have a great system,” said Hellebuyck. “I think guys understand their role and the leaders in this group show the way. The young guys that come in or the guys that don’t play a lot come in and they’re doing a fantastic job and they’re just following suit. I thought the team was great in front of me. The guys’ details are fantastic.”
Both teams had been rattled by injuries, with the Wild missing defenceman Ryan Suter. Zach Parise fractured his sternum in Game Three and didn’t return to the series. The Jets were without Toby Enstrom and Dmitry Kulikov, plus they lost Mathieu Perreault in Game One and saw Tyler Myers bounced from Game Three. Also, Josh Morrissey was suspended for Game Five.
But in the end, the Jets were able to overcome the injuries and the Wild were not. After the exit of Parise, they never scored another goal.
And now, Winnipeg will await the winner of the Colorado/Nashville series. The Avalanche pulled off a win on Friday and are still hanging in there, but the favoured Predators have the 3-2 lead.