The Winnipeg Jets have defeated the Nashville Predators with a decisive Game Seven win and will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final.
The Jets took the game by a final score of 5-1.
Winnipeg got out to an early 2-0 lead on Thursday and chased Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne from the net, giving him the distinction of being the quickest netminder bounced from a Game Seven. Fellow Finnish goalie Juuse Saros took over.
Tyler Myers and Paul Stastny opened the scoring for Winnipeg, potting two goals before the game hit the 11-minute mark.
Nashville was able to respond on the power play with a P.K. Subban blast that careened in off the post.
But Winnipeg answered with the sole second period goal, with Mark Scheifele one-timing a Blake Wheeler pass past Saros. The goal was Scheifele’s 10th of the post-season.
Stastny scored again on the Jets’ first power play, potting a third period goal that put things away for good. Scheifele added an empty-netter for his 11th of the playoffs.
The Jets worked for every inch of space in the game and made things tough for the Predators, who tried to generate some activity around Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck.
The visiting squad kept things tight in the final frame, playing with an aggressive forechecker and a collapsing defensive unit that left Nashville with little room to move. When the Predators could squeeze off shots, they were stuck with tough angles and few rebounds. They got out to an early 6-1 shot advantage in the third, but little came of it apart from a few scrambles.
Nashville outshot the Jets overall 37-24, but it didn’t seem to rattle Winnipeg one bit as they kept things to the perimeter and let Hellebuyck do the rest.
The home crowd attempted to keep their Predators in it, but the trepidation that sank in early never really left the Bridgestone Arena. The Nashville faithful didn’t seem to like Rinne’s early exodus and they spent most of the third period standing anxiously.
Regardless, the night and the series belonged to the Winnipeg Jets. And the next round will see them face the upstart Golden Knights, who’re playing with house money and exceeding all expectations. It should be a terrific tilt.