Jets 4 Predators 1
NASHVILLE — Connor Hellebuyck made 47 saves to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal matchup on Friday night.
Mark Scheifele scored twice for Winnipeg, while Brandon Tanev and Paul Stastny added goals as well.
Despite putting 48 shots on Hellebuyck, Kevin Fiala’s third-period goal was the only one that eluded the Vezina Trophy finalist.
After shutting out Minnesota in the final two games in the first round, Hellebuyck’s shutout streak ended at 163:00.
Tanev scored the game’s first goal at 14:51 of the opening period.
After withstanding a strong Nashville push to begin the game, Bryan Little forced a turnover in the neutral zone and outbattled Predators defenceman Alexei Emelin in the right circle before sending a backhand pass toward Tanev at the left goal-post. The puck hit the stick of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne and Tanev tapped the rebound in for his second goal of the post-season.
Rinne is also a Vezina finalist.
Tanev’s goal was Winnipeg’s fourth and final shot in the first. Nashville put 20 shots on Hellebuyck in the period.
Stastny doubled the Jets lead at 9:01 of the second.
Patrik Laine’s shot from the slot rang off of the mask of Rinne, a fellow Finn, and the rebound landed on Stastny’s tape outside the crease, where he put it by the fallen goaltender.
At 17:51 of the second, Scheifele made it 3-0.
Blake Wheeler was whistled for goaltender interference at 15:38, and late in that Nashville power play, Filip Forsberg had an opportunity to cut the Winnipeg lead in half with a one-timer from the left circle, but his shot rang off of the left post. Soon after, Wheeler led a rush into the Nashville zone and dropped a pass for Scheifele in the high slot, where he snapped a wrist shot by Rinne on the stick side.
Juuse Saros replaced Rinne at the start of the third period.
Fiala got Nashville on the scoreboard at 1:23 of the third.
From the right point, Ryan Ellis sent a pass to Kyle Turris at the right of the Winnipeg net and he made a one-touch pass to an unchecked Fiala in front for an easy tap in for his second playoff goal.
Ellis left the game on his next shift after getting cut when Ben Chiarot’s skate clipped him in the face near his left eye. After going to the dressing room for repairs, the defenceman returned midway through the period.
Scheifele added an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game. He has five goals in his past three games.