Predators hope to turn shots into goals vs. Jets

30 April, 2018, 11:55 | Author: Homer Porter
  • TREVOR HAGAN  WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe Winnipeg Jets' plane outside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville TN Saturday

Connor Hellebuyck loves what he's seeing in his first National Hockey League postseason, and the 24-year-old goalie is doing his best to make sure the Winnipeg Jets do much more than just stick around.

Flying somewhat under the radar is that the series also features two of the three goaltenders nominated for the Vezina Trophy.

Averaging 28.2 saves per game with a.925 save percentage, Pekka Rinne (46-20-4) has been the best option in goal for the Predators this year. They need better goaltending from Pekka Rinne in Game 2, but stopping the high-powered Jets offense is no easy task.

Grabbing the win in game-one was Connor Hellebuyck, who stopped a whopping 47 of the 48 shots that he faced to improve to 5-1 with a 1.77 GAA and a.940 save percentage in this his first season of playoff action. This seems to just be one of those nights for the Vezina frontrunner.

The incident happened during the third period of San Jose's 7-0 loss to the Golden Knights Thursday in the series opener. Several Predators said they thought this was perhaps their best game of the season, talk Coach Peter Laviolette didn't share. He's been through a lot of wars and a lot of battles, so we have no issues with that. What we were trying to do in front of him was just get bodies, get sticks, let him see things.

Barring injury or an unexpected move from Laviolette, Rinne should be back in net for Game 2.

"No, I don't think there's any such thing as a stranglehold against this team", Little said.

"That's the tough part of this game is that those inches and those swings of momentum are so huge and you try to get them back", Trotz said.

The Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators hook up for Game 2 of their second-round series Sunday evening at Bridgestone Arena.

TREVOR HAGAN  WINNIPEG FREE PRESSWinnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault during practice at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville TN Saturday
TREVOR HAGAN WINNIPEG FREE PRESSWinnipeg Jets Mathieu Perreault during practice at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville TN Saturday

The Predators finished with 53-18-11 record, while the Jets went 52-20-10. This is a long series and that's a great team over there and they're going to push back. Last time we saw a possession game that strong, Linda Blair was involved.

"A good majority of us knew right away when we got on the ice, but then there was a handful talking after the game that didn't know", Blake Wheeler revealed Saturday. Not even pulling backup goalie Juuse Saros with more than 2 minutes left helped. The second, a loss in San Jose as the Predators had more than 16,000 miles of air travel to play the 14 games.

In the second period, the Predators outshot the Jets 16-12, but Winnipeg scored two unanswered goals. I'm going to say goals will be very hard to come by here and it appears to me the under is the right side to be on. He's a tremendous goalie over there.

As for Carrie Underwood, I think she can start a Go Fund Me account and scrape up the rest if needed under her living room couch.

"There you go", Maurice said.

Winnipeg knows that a lot of Nashville's offence is generated by the play of top defencemen P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi. Watson didn't play the last two periods Friday night because of an undisclosed injury.

"We have good finishers here", Maurice said. "The foundation of it is they skate well".

Connor Hellebuyck could not possibly have been any better. "That's why they had such a good season".

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