The Winnipeg Jets can hear the countdown ticking away. The playoffs are fast approaching, and the Jets are fighting tooth and nail to hang on to a post-season berth. The last few months have been quite rocky, with Hellebuyck looking mortal and the offense forgetting how to score. It all set up a crucial road match-up with the Nashville Predators, the one team Winnipeg is trying to fend off for the second wild card. Could the Jets rally for a massive win?
Winnipeg faced adversity early, with native son Cody Glass deflecting a puck past Hellebuyck just over 5 minutes in to give the Preds the lead. The Jets had to shake off the goal quickly, and peppered Saros with plenty of shots at the other end. As has been the case far too often, though, Winnipeg could not find particularly dangerous looks to put Saros under serious pressure. Nashville was content to let the Jets fire from range, and the combination of shot blocks and Saros did enough to keep Winnipeg off the board.
The second period saw the Jets continuing to try and find a sign of life. By this point, Winnipeg had nearly double the Preds in shots. Nashville’s goaltending and defense, however, kept the Jets to the perimeter regions. The precious low slot area remained unexploitable, and it felt like the game was slowly slipping away. For such a dominant and controlled effort, it scarcely felt like the Jets had the kind of control they needed.
In the potentially season-defining third period, Winnipeg finally hit paydirt. Nik Ehlers sent a puck into orbit over Saros’ shoulder, evening the game. Winnipeg’s habit of costly errors, sadly, saw Nashville steal the lead right back. Pionk got worked over along the walls and coughed up the puck, allowing Luke Evangelista to put the Preds in the driver’s seat again. Just when all hope was lost, Adam Lowry finally scored a goal off of a faceoff to get Winnipeg tied up. Both teams would have to wait until overtime to figure out who was getting the extra point. Mercifully, it was Winnipeg who ended up prevailing. Pionk, the lead culprit on both Nashville goals, deposited a PLD rebound to seal the deal.
- Winnipeg’s finishing desperately needs a boost right now. They managed to edge past Nashville in this one, but the goalscoring is so dry right now.
- Barron continues to put in some very nice shifts. I’m growing to be a big fan of his.
- Pionk managed to partially atone for his grievous errors, but that still won’t cover for the mare of a game he had.
- It wasn’t the cleanest outing, but the Jets ended up with both points. This could be the most important win of the year.
- There’s a lot of work left to be done, so Winnipeg cannot relax for a second. Buckle up folks. The next few weeks will be hairy.