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Jets propelled by Hellebuyck, home ice in first-round victory

Defensive depth also helped Winnipeg get past Wild

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

The Winnipeg Jets needed five games to win a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time in franchise history.

The Jets advanced to the Western Conference Second Round with a 5-0 victory in Game 5 against the Minnesota Wild at Bell MTS Place on Friday.

Winnipeg awaits the winner of the first-round series between the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche, which the Predators lead 3-2.

 

[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Wild series coverage]

 

Here are 5 reasons the Jets advanced to the second round: 

 

1. Home dominance

After ending the regular season with nine straight wins at home, the Jets won all three games they played at Bell MTS Place in the best-of-7 series, outscoring the Wild 12-3. 

Video: MIN@WPG, Gm5: Jets strike early with four-goal 1st

Winnipeg's power play was 2-for-7 (28.6 percent) and their penalty kill 7-for-8 (87.5 percent) at home, compared to 1-for-6 (16.7 percent) and 2-for-5 (60 percent), respectively, in two road games. 

 

2. Holy Hellebuyck 

Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, had a .924 save percentage in the series, matching his regular-season performance, and a 1.94 goals-against average, with shutouts in Games 4 and 5 to close out the series. 

Hellebuyck became the third United States-born goaltender in NHL history to have consecutive shutouts in the playoffs, joining Mike Richter of the New York Rangers (Games 1 and 2 of 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Islanders) and Brent Johnson of the St. Louis Blues (Games 2 and 4 of 2002 Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Chicago Blackhawks).

"He's been unbelievable all year," forward Bryan Little said. "For us to win this thing, we're going to need that kind of goaltending. He's been doing everything and more than we need him to do. You don't get tired of it, just how good he's been for us this year, how big of a part of the team he is.

 

3. Defensive depth

The Jets came into the series without Toby Enstrom (lower body) and Dmitry Kulikov (back). They were without Tyler Myers for Game 4 because of a lower-body injury and Josh Morrissey in Game 5 because of a one-game suspension. 

Video: WPG@MIN, Gm3: Myers beats Dubnyk with slap shot

"We've shown it all year, that we had to deal with guys banged up the entire season," Myers said. "We've had to tap into the depth of our lineup a lot of different times. I think all the guys have stepped up really well whenever those times have come up and if they come up again, it's adversity we're comfortable working through."

 

4. Wild scorers silenced

Wild center Eric Staal had 76 points (42 goals, 34 assists) during the regular season, but the Jets held him to two points (one goal, one assist) in the series.

Minnesota forward Jason Zucker, who had 64 points (33 goals, 31 assists) in the regular season, had no points and five shots in five games. 

"I think what we preach in our room is that we know we're a good offensive team but we're a better defensive team," Winnipeg forward Blake Wheeler said. "That's what's made us good. We have good goaltending, try to play the right way in front of [Hellebuyck], and we have an opportunity to win hockey games."

 

5. Game 3 reset

The Jets' lone loss in the series came in Game 3, 6-2, but they were able to bounce back with consecutive shutouts in Games 4 and 5. 

"We knew that Game 3 wasn't our best," forward Mark Scheifele said. "You have to give Minnesota credit. They played solid. They made their plays and capitalized on their chances. We put that one on the back burner and we got back to our game in Game 4 and did it again [in Game 5]." 

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Complete Coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Predators vs. Avalanche

Jets vs. Wild

Golden Knights vs. Kings

Ducks vs. Sharks

Lightning vs. Devils

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

Capitals vs. Blue Jackets

Penguins vs. Flyers

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