The second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs will conclude with a Game 7 when the Nashville Predators play the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) for a spot in the Western Conference Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. The eventual Stanley Cup champion has won at least one Game 7 in each of the past five years.
"It's a great environment," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. "It's almost as loud as you can get in the League. If you would have told me we were going into Nashville to play a Game 7 to play a conference final before the season, we'd take that all day. We have nothing but to be excited about that opportunity. Great atmosphere, great building, great team, everything on the line. It's going to be a great night."
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The Jets will play the first Game 7 in the history of the franchise, which began as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. They are the 29th active NHL franchise to first play a Game 7, the first since the Predators did it two years ago. Fourteen teams have won their first Game 7; 10 of them won on the road.
"It will be fun," Jets forward Paul Stastny said. "We've just got to enjoy it, embrace it. I was in a situation like that a couple of years ago when we played [the Chicago Blackhawks]. It was the same thing. Everyone was done except our series.
"Everyone expected it. Everyone from the outside, when you (have) two of the top teams in the League playing each other, I'm sure that's what people wanted, a Game 7, and that's what they're going to get."
The original Winnipeg Jets (now the Arizona Coyotes) played in two Game 7s, losing 4-1 at the Edmonton Oilers in the 1990 Smythe Division Semifinals and 5-0 at the Vancouver Canucks in the 1992 Smythe Division Semifinals.
Home teams are 100-70 (.588) in Game 7, including 1-0 this season when the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-4 in the deciding game of the Eastern Conference First Round. Teams that score first in Game 7 are 126-44 (.741), although the Maple Leafs lost to the Bruins after scoring the first goal of the game.
Of the 170 Game 7s, 41 (24.2 percent) have gone to overtime. Home teams are 21-20. The most recent Game 7 to go into overtime came in the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, when the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the visiting Ottawa Senators 3-2 on a goal by Chris Kunitz at 5:09 of the second overtime. That was the 11th Game 7 to go to multiple overtimes. The longest came when the New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 in the 1987 Patrick Division Semifinals on a goal by Pat LaFontaine at 8:47 of the fourth overtime.
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