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game recap

Jets defeat Predators in Game 7, advance to Western Final

Hellebuyck makes 36 saves for Winnipeg, which will play Golden Knights; Rinne pulled for Nashville

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Winnipeg Jets advanced to the Western Conference Final for the first time with a 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 7 of the second round at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

Paul Stastny had two goals and an assist, Mark Scheifele scored two goals, and Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves for Winnipeg.

"I knew we had a good team, and I knew that if we were going to do anything, you're going to have to play Nashville in the second round," Stastny said. "I think this is what you knew it was going to be, and we came out on the winning side."

 

[WATCH: All Jets vs. Predators Game 7 highlights | Complete Predators vs. Jets series coverage]

 

The Jets will host the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the conference final on Saturday.

"It was just great to see our group play our game," Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. "That was our goal coming into this one, that win or lose, we wanted to play our game. It's what has given us success all year. That was it. Keep it pretty simple, have a good first period and play our game all night."

Video: WPG@NSH, Gm7: Jets win, shake hands with Preds

P.K. Subban scored, and Juuse Saros made 14 saves in relief of Pekka Rinne for Nashville.

"I obviously feel very much responsible for our season ending at this point," said Rinne, who made five saves. "Tough. Tough to swallow. Tough to understand. You know, I can't point on anything. Felt good and no injuries, totally healthy and total ups and downs throughout the playoffs. And obviously, you know, the biggest moment of the season, it's a terrible feeling. You let your teammates down, and that's what happened tonight."

Tyler Myers scored at 8:41 of the first period on a shot from the right-wing goal line that went between Rinne's skate and the post for a 1-0 lead.

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Jets advance to Conference Final

Stastny gave the Jets a 2-0 lead at 10:47, scoring with a backhand off his own rebound at the left post. Rinne was pulled following the goal.

"In games like this, sometimes you don't want to shoot from everywhere, but I think when you're in tight like that you want to shoot it," Stastny said. "Just because those are always kind of those awkward saves for goalies, and they give up rebounds."

Video: WPG@NSH, Gm7: Myers scores from sharp angle

Subban cut the lead to 2-1 at 15:54 with a one-timer from the point on the power play.

Scheifele made it 3-1 at 17:50 of the second period on a one-timer off a pass from Wheeler from the left face-off circle. Stastny extended it to 4-1 with a power-play goal at 11:59 of the third period, scoring five-hole on Saros on a rebound in front.

Scheifele scored an empty-net goal at 17:27 to make it 5-1. 

"It's huge," Scheifele said. "It was an awesome series. They're an unbelievable team. It was a battle until the end, and we're definitely happy that we came out on top."

 

Goal of the game

Scheifele's goal at 17:50 of the second period.

Video: WPG@NSH, Gm7: Scheifele nets one-timer past Saros

 

Save of the game

Hellebuyck's save on Kyle Turris at 2:13 of the third period.

Video: WPG@NSH, Gm7: Hellebuyck denies Turris with kick save

 

Highlight of the game

Stastny's goal at 11:59 of the third period.

Video: WPG@NSH, Gm7: Stastny pads lead with his second

 

They said it

"It certainly lived up to the extremes. I thought I would be able to describe the games to you better. If I have to go back and tell you how they went, they're going to seem so unusual. But I thought for us anyway, in terms of how we played Game 2 and this game from kind of a start-to-finish game, were our best games." -- Jets coach Paul Maurice 

 

"Yeah, we work all year for that home ice. Last year, home ice was everything for us. And obviously, it's difficult. It's a tough pill to swallow that we weren't good enough on home ice." - Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis on losing three of four home games in series

 

"I love this group. We have a great group of guys, a lot of great players. Obviously, we're all disappointed right now. But it was such a fun regular season, such a fun year with those guys. I'm really proud of the way we played. We're such a tight group. We're a big family. Right now, it's hard to look forward, but right now we have all the players to be successful. But obviously a little disappointed right now." -- Predators defenseman Roman Josi

 

Need to know

Scheifele, who leads the NHL with 11 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scored seven road goals against the Predators, a playoff record for a single series. … Stastny has eight points (four goals, four assists) in four career Game 7's. … Rinne was pulled in three games (all at home) in the series.

 

What's next

Jets: Host Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBC, TVAS)

Predators: Season over

 

Video: Stastny, Jets prevail in first Game 7, advance to WCF

 

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