Jets shutout Preds 5-0 to clinch playoff spot Featured

Written by  Published in Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg, Manitoba (NHN)-Kyle Connor fired his first career hat trick and added an assist as the Winnipeg Jets kicked off their last homestand of the season by pounding the Nashville Predators 5-0.

The win clinched a playoff spot for the Jets, who increased their stranglehold on first place in the Central division by recording their 94th point of the year.

They lead second place Nashville by four points with a game in hand.

Both clubs play Monday as Winnipeg hosts Dallas and Nashville is in Minnesota.

Deadline acquisition Kevin Hayes had a goal and pair of assists for the Jets, who kicked off a four-game homestand with a win.

Andrew Copp also scored for Winnipeg.

Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 33 shots he faced to pick up his second shutout of the season as the Jets moved to 45-26-4 with 94 points.

"They (teammates) were phenomenal. They were getting their sticks on everything, they were blocking shots, they were controlling the pace of play. Our details were right," said Hellebuyck.

"I was part of that. I did my job when I was needed. But the guys in front of me made it pretty easy," he added.

Pekka Rinne turned aside 38 shots for Nashville, who kicked off a three-game road trip with a loss (42-28-6).

There was no scoring in the first period.

Nashville appeared to take the lead 3:12 into second period when Calle Jamkrok tipped a puck past Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck but the goal was disallowed after video review showed he contacted the puck with a high stick.

Kyle Connor got Winnipeg on the board after Kevin Hayes stopped a puck at the blue line and fed Connor with a forehand pass.

The Jet winger streaked in and undressed defenceman P.K. Subban before beating Pekka Rinne with a backhand deke at 4:42.

The goal was his 30th of the season.

"It was kind of a regroup," said Connor. "Myers hit (Hayes) in the middle there and I was coming up with a lot of speed and I think P.K. was a little bit flat-footed so I tried to take advantage of that and make a little move and went to the backhand and tried to get it on net.”

“He’s (Hayes) up there with one of the best passers I’ve seen and played with. He creates a lot of space with his size and really good hands for that big of a guy, too. He always seems to find the open guy so it’s been fun playing with him right now."

Andrew Copp made it 2-0 Jets 14:16 into the second period after he banked the puck in off of goaltender Pekka Rinne's skate from behind the goal line.

A clearly gassed Matt Hendricks took a feed from Matthieu Perreault at the blue line and forced himself to drive a hard shot on goal which Rinne stopped but Copp took control of behind the goal line before a successful bank shot off Rinne's skate.

The goal was his 11th of the season.

Kevin Hayes made it 3-0 at 15:41 of the second period, spinning and firing a shot just inside the right goal post after Rinne failed to cover the goal post fast enough.

The goal was his 18th of the season.

Kyle Connor scored an insurance goal at 15:22 of the third period, beating Rinne with a backhand shot to make it 4-0 Winnipeg.

Predators Captain Roman Josi nutshelled the Predators in a couple of sentences.

"Biggest game of the year up to this point and they're just better than us. It's disappointing," he said.

"We lost five nothing," said Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette.

"I thought the first period we played really well. I thought we had the edge and just with what we were trying to do I thought we were sharp and on point and then the next 40 turned, we weren't good at all."

"It's a disappointing loss," he added.

"We were playing for first in the Central division tonight," said Laviolette. "So we had a tough 40 minutes."

Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice said his club's effort was amongst the best of the season.

"It would be right there. Our other two Nashville games (that they won) I liked a lot. There was lots of energy. It was everything, right. It felt as close to a playoff game in the building. Right from the national anthems there was a buzz. You know what, I really think we needed that. I was worried about this one, more for just coming off the west coast. This is our toughest stretch, where would the emotional level be. The fans didn’t give you a chance not to be wired. You could feel it on the bench. It was great."

SHOTS-NASHVILLE 33 WINNIPEG 43

ATTENDANCE-15,321

Last modified on Sunday, 24 March 2019 02:40
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.