Jets overpower Predators, reach 1st conference finals

The veteran centre had two goals and an assist, Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves, and the Jets defeated the Nashville Predators 5-1 in Game 7 to advance to their first Western Conference final.

"I have yet to be scored on in one, so I like those odds", Hellebuyck joked.

It all comes down to this for the Winnipeg Jets and the host Nashville Predators in Game 7 tonight. Not to be outshined, veteran goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped all 34 shots sent his way to record the shutout.

"This has nothing to do with that", he added. Not with this team, mind you, but he's seen Game 7.

Rinne, who has spent all 12 of his National Hockey League seasons with the Predators, is a three-time all-star, and has been named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy four times. The series now sits at 3-3 after the Preds took game six by a score of 4-0.

"That's heartbreaking", Hellebuyck said of seeing Rinne yanked.

"We are just thrilled and we're pretty pleased to knock off a team like Nashville", Wheeler said.

Winnipeg led that series 3-1, but was then outscored 21-5 over the final three games by Vancouver. NBC Sports Network will televise the 8 p.m. EDT matchup.

There were no players on the ice, but thousands of fans exploded with cheers in the arena as the final seconds drained off the clock in the last game of the second round in Nashville, Tenn.

10th For the 10th consecutive year, the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will conclude with a Game 7. They also have 2.8 per game over their last five road outings. Let us know in the comments section below. "I think that might be a reason we haven't played as strongly at home or whatever, but we just need to focus on our game [Thursday] and not worry about all the distractions from all those things". With it, the Predators have shown that the rest of their game follows quickly.

"We know what they bring, we know that they're good, that they maybe surprised a few teams, but not really", Jets center Paul Stastny said.

"Right now, in this situation in this time of year, everybody has the best players, the best goalies, and you have to be the best to beat them", the Capitals star said.

"Both are emotional buildings, lots of energy", Maurice said. But there's definitely a calmness to it. I think scars make you a little bit tougher. The Jets have not been a great road team overall this year, but they have taken two of three on the road in this series and have won six of their last eight away from home, dating back to the regular season. But even-strength shot attempts are 338 apiece with each team blocking 97 shots. What's been most interesting about this series is the fact that neither team has established home field advantage.

None of those stats will matter after tonight. "This is what we play for".

"It's the most fun", Forsberg said. Forsberg (79 points) has tallied 33 goals and 46 assists and has recorded multiple points on 22 separate occasions this year. The Predators are riding a 4-0 run in Thursday night games but they have had a tough time putting together back-to-back wins as they are 0-5 recently following a win.

  • Julie Sanders