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Grind gets to Jets in Western Conference Final

Lack of offense, Hellebuyck's struggles end Winnipeg's playoff run

by Scott Billeck / Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets couldn't find their scoring touch and didn't get the same level of goaltending, ultimately leading to their elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference Final against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Jets lost 2-1 in Game 5 at home Sunday, the first time they lost four in a row this season.

Here are 5 reasons why the Jets were eliminated in the second round:


[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Golden Knights series coverage]


1. Scoring letdown

The Jets were second in the NHL in goals-for in the regular season (273) and scored 43 goals combined in the first two rounds of the playoffs. But they scored 10 goals in five games against the Golden Knights in the conference final.

The top line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor combined for three goals in the series, and the Jets received little secondary scoring.

Patrik Laine scored two goals on the power play and Joel Armia scored once. Four Jets forwards scored in the series; three of their 10 goals came from defensemen.

"I think we would have played better if I would know," Laine said. "Just couldn't score. I think we had a lot of chances. Just couldn't capitalize. I think that was one of the reasons why we're out."

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Laine rips home power-play goal


2. Couldn't solve Fleury

The Jets were able to score four goals on 26 shots in Game 1 but never put more than two past Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in each of the remaining four games in the series.

Fleury had a 2.02 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in the series. He had a 1.50 GAA and a .956 save percentage after Game 1.

"Their goaltender was extraordinary," Wheeler said. "There were numerous times the puck was in spots where it looked like it was in the net or going in the net. And he's playing lights out right now."


3. No answer for Vegas' top line

The Golden Knights' top line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith combined for seven goals and 15 points in the series, including two game-winning goals.

The Jets also struggled to find an answer to the line's speed.


4. Grind is real

The grind of the Stanley Cup Playoffs caught up with the Jets in the third round.

They led once in the series and gave up the first goal in the final four games, all losses.

The Jets were 8-1 when scoring first in the playoffs, but never found the opening goal outside of Game 1 and were outscored 14-7 after going up 3-0 in the first period of Game 1.

"There's a cost to [chasing the game], and it stacked up, and coming off of what we did to get here," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "There were some things that at times during the year, and maybe the playoffs are a different animal, but were easier for us. Clean things, on the tape, pucks off the tape a little quicker, that became difficult for us. The right thing to do is to make sure you give the other team credit. They did a good job with that."


5. Inconsistent goaltending

Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck finished the playoffs with a 2.36 GAA and a .922 save percentage, but wasn't able to play to his average in the conference final.

Hellebuyck had a 2.66 GAA and a .906 save percentage against the Golden Knights. His save percentage was under .900 in three of the games.

Video: VGK@WPG, Gm5: Hellebuyck makes back-to-back saves



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