WINNIPEG - For the second time in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets have a chance to move on.
The first chance came in the First Round, when the Jets pounced on the Minnesota Wild early, and rode a four-goal first period to a 5-0 win.
Now in the Second Round, the Jets will try to eliminate the Nashville Predators.
But they know it won't be an easy task.
"We know they're going to come hard. We know they're going to be at their best," said Mark Scheifele. "For us, we have to focus on our game, focus on playing good every shift, doing the right things every shift. We have to be prepared for a hungry team."
In order to eliminate the Predators, the Jets will have to do something that no team has done since the best-of-seven series between the NHL's top two regular season teams began - win two in a row.
"It's two good hockey teams playing against each other. That's the biggest thing," said Scheifele. "They're a great team. They play hard. We're a good team and we play hard. It's a matter of doing it for a full 60 minutes. We have to be ready for a grind tonight."
Bryan Little didn't take part in the Jets pre-game skate this morning, but head coach Paul Maurice did say the veteran forward is an option for Game Six tonight.
Little had 13:29 of ice time in Game Five at Bridgestone Arena, including 2:47 of power play time.
It was on that power play unit that Mathieu Perreault - playing in his first game since Game One against Minnesota - scored his first of the playoffs.
"Any time you get a chance to score a goal in the playoffs is always a lot of fun," said Perreault. "It's such a great feeling to be on the bench and be able to celebrate with the guys. That's all I really wanted, so I was really happy to be out there with them."
Winnipeg's power play has scored in four of the five games this series; Nashville in three of them.
In Maurice's mind, that almost helps the teams discipline themselves.
"Both teams understand the cost of a penalty that is casual," said Maurice. "We weren't necessarily warned by the League, but we warned ourselves. I'm assuming them as well, they've talked about discipline. Both teams knew going into it that the stuff after the whistle puts you in a really difficult spot."
Tonight's tilt is the third consecutive time the puck will drop after 8:30 pm CT. But whether it's start times, the magnitude of the games, or the incredible amount of buzz in the city, Jets captain Blake Wheeler says his team's routines stay the same.
"I think there is something to be said for staying within your routine and approaching each game the same way," said Wheeler. 'You start treating things differently as you go on, and you start doing things you don't normally do and it takes away from what's given our group success."
So all the players will take the same pre-game nap, the same route to the rink, and the same warm-up routine as they would have back in October.
The only difference is the time of year.
"It's another hockey game, prepare the exact same way you've prepared all season, and all playoffs, and all series," said a composed Wheeler.
"It's a great opportunity and there's a lot of excitement in our group again tonight."
Drop the puck.
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets are a win away from reaching the Western Conference Final, as they host the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of their Second Round Stanley Cup Playoff series...The Jets beat the Predators 6-2 in Game 5 in Nashville on Saturday night to take a 3-2 series lead...If necessary, Game 7 is scheduled for Thursday back at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Fear the White Out
Bell MTS Place has not been kind to opposing teams this season, as the Jets finished the regular season with the best home record in the NHL at 32-7-2...The Jets won their last nine games of the regular season in front of their home crowd and their first four home games during the playoffs to extend the winning streak to a combined 13 games, which ended after the 2-1 loss to the Predators in Game 4...Winnipeg outscored their opposition 52-27 in the 13 games.
Effective Power Play
The Jets have scored a power play goal in four consecutive games and five consecutive games in which they had a power play opportunity...The Jets are 4-for-14 (28.6%) on the power play in this series and 7-for-27 (25.9%) during the playoffs, which is fourth in the NHL...Mark Scheifele has scored three of Winnipeg's seven playoff power play goals.
The Jets scored six goals in Game 5, which is the second time they have scored six-or-more goals in a game in this series...Winnipeg is one game behind the three six-or-more-goal games the Boston Bruins have had in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs...Winnipeg has scored an NHL-best 3.80 goals per game in the playoffs...In this series against Nashville, the Jets are averaging 4.4 goals per game, while allowing 2.8 goals per game.
This series is a meeting of the top two teams during the regular season in terms of points...Nashville won the Presidents' Trophy after earning 117 points... Winnipeg was three points back with 114 points...This is the fifth playoff series since 1990 that pits the top two teams from the regular season against each other in the playoffs...It's the second time in as many seasons that the top two teams play each other in the second round, as the Washington Capitals played the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice is coaching in the postseason for the sixth time in his career...Maurice is 31-35 behind the bench in playoff games, with the highlight of his postseason success coming in 2002 when he coached the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Final...The Game 1 win against Minnesota was his first playoff victory since 2009 when he coached Carolina.
The Kid Heats Up
Rookie forward Kyle Connor had two goals and an assist in Game 5 against Nashville to produce his first career playoff goals...He's the first rookie in franchise history to post a three-point game in the playoffs...Connor went nine games without a goal after scoring nine goals in his final 13 regular season games.
Blake Wheeler had a trio of assists in Game 5 to record the first three-assist playoff game of his career...He leads the Jets in the playoffs with 10 assists, which includes nine assists in his last seven games...Eight of Wheeler's 10 assists have been primary assists...During the regular season, Wheeler had a share of the NHL lead with a career-high 68 assists in 81 games.
Home is Where Helle is Best
Despite having his 12-game home winning streak end in Game 4, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has been spectacular at Bell MTS Place this season...During the regular season, Hellebuyck was a sparkling 30-5-2 with a 2.31 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and four shutouts on home ice...He's been even better in the playoffs, going 4-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.
Paul Stastny, who was acquired from the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline, has been a major contributor for the Jets in this series...He is on a six-game point streak (3G, 6A) dating back to Game 5 in the first round against Minnesota...In the six games, Stastny has two multi-point games, including a three-point night against Nashville in Game 3.
Scheifele Strikes Again
After having his five-game point and multi-point streak come to an end in Game 4, Mark Scheifele had a goal and an assist in Game 5 for his sixth multi-point game in his last seven outings...He's tied for second in the NHL in playoff goals with nine and leads the Jets in scoring in the playoffs with 14 points (9G, 5A) in 10 games.
Dustin Byfuglien and Paul Stastny are the only two players on the Jets roster to score an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs...Byfuglien did it during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, while Paul Stastny did it with the Colorado Avalanche, which occurred against these same Wild on Apr. 17/14...In that game Stastny also scored the game-tying goal with 14 seconds remaining in the third period.