Jets take first game of playoff series with Wild Featured

Written by  Published in Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg, Manitoba (NHN)-Joe Morrow fired the game winner 12:47 into the third period to give the Winnipeg Jets a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild Wednesday night.

Nikolaj Ehlers got the puck to Morrow at the left point and the defenceman got off a low slapshot which beat Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk between the pads to give the Jets their first playoff victory in franchise history and a 1-0 playoff series lead.

The journeyman defenceman was acquired at the trade deadline from the Montreal Canadiens for a 4th round draft pick in the upcoming June draft.

"That's the majority of the reason you play hockey as a kid is to come and play in the playoffs, play for the Stanley Cup and getting an opportunity to score a goal like that. So, to say it's a dream come true is a pretty big understatement," said Morrow.

"Awesome to see a guy step in, new to the team a little bit, and have a huge effect. He's fit in seamlessly with our group. For a guy like him (Morrow) it's tough, because he's never really had an established role. Somebody who's kind of on the outskirts, or in and out a bit," said Jets captain Blake Wheeler, who assisted on Winnipeg's first goal.

Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine also scored for the Jets.

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 18 shots for Winnipeg.

Matt Cullen and Zach Parise scored for the Wild.

Devan Dubnyk turned aside 38 shots for Minnesota.

After a scoreless first period Winnipeg got on the board with 2:23 remaining in the second period twenty seconds into a power play when Mark Scheifele converted a centering pass from Blake Wheeler and whipped a high wrister past Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

The goal was his first of the playoffs.

Matt Cullen tied the contest 1:46 into the third period, one timing a Jordan Greenway backhand saucer pass from the left side boards past Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to make it 1-1.

Greenway broke into the Jets zone before curling toward the boards and hit Cullen with a perfect backhand saucer pass.

Cullen swooped in and whipped a forehand shot as the disc hit his stick and beat Hellebuyck with a high shot.

Zach Parise gave the Wild the lead at 3:58 on a 2-on-1 with Michael Grandlund, finishing off the break when the Jets turned the puck over in the Minnesota end and the pair broke away.

The goal was his first of the playoffs but the Wild offence stalled with the tally as Minnesota failed to register a shot on goal for the next eleven minutes and registered only one more during the game.

The lead didn't last long as a turnover just outside the Wild blue line proved costly.

Matt Dumba attempted to hit Mikko Koivu with a pass that Patrik Laine pounced on when the errant pass deflected off of Minnesota captain's skate.

Laine hit Paul Stastny with a short pass as the Jets centreman crossed the blue line before dropping the puck for Laine who promptly moved in and fired a wrister past Dubnyk from the high slot, beating him glove side to tie the game at 2. The tally was his first playoff goal.

“Yeah. He’s (Stastny) done that a couple times (drop pass) now and seems to know that I like that play and he just dropped it, took the hit from the guy and took him away. That opens a lot of eyes for me and [I] just try to shoot it," said Laine.

“Yeah. I mean, a goal is always a goal. But the atmosphere is just -- the place exploded. It was maybe a little bit nicer," he added.

"It was a bad turnover," said Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. "When you turn the puck over the middle of the ice you know he (Laine) deked our player, we didn't hold the middle and he got to come right down main street."

"When he (Laine) shoots the puck it's got a chance to go in," he added.

Joe Morrow beat Dubnyk through the pads with a slapshot from the left point at 12:47, converting a Nikolaj Ehlers feed to give the Jets a 3-2 lead.

"I don't think we played as well as we can. We showed pieces of our game. I don't think we played to our level to be honest with you. We have better," said Matt Cullen. "I think we took a breath (after taking lead) and you know we thought about defending as opposed to continuing to at them."

Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice said his team settled in as the game wore on.

"I don’t think there was a difference between young and old tonight, from rookie and veteran. I think both teams were both very cautious early, real conservative in what they’re doing and then when the game started to go, I thought we relaxed a little bit as the game went on.”

SHOTS-MINNESOTA 20 WINNIPEG 40

ATTENDANCE-15,294

NOTES-Jets winger Matthieu Perreault left the game in the second period and did not return. An update is expected tomorrow.

Game two goes Friday night in Winnipeg.

Last modified on Thursday, 12 April 2018 03:14
Philip Paul-Martin

A well rounded journalist with experience in both print and broadcast mediums, Philip has written news stories with impact, broken national news while at the CBC, anchored radio news and hosted talk show radio. His coverage includes feature writing, game stories and more in-depth pieces during the off-season as well as writing about the National Hockey League and the Winnipeg Jets. He calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home.