WINNIPEG, Manitoba — If you had asked the Winnipeg Jets a week ago if they would take a split after the first two games of their playoff series against the Nashville Predators, they would have said “yes” faster than Patrik Laine can unleash a one-timer.
But that didn’t mean there wasn’t some disappointment in the Jets’ dressing room after their 5-4 double-overtime loss in Game 2 on Sunday night. But just as they’ve done all year long, the Jets processed the result and started preparing for the next battle.
“It’s a sucky way to lose,” Jets center Mark Scheifele told a media scrum after the game. “But we played a better game (Sunday) than we did on Friday. That’s a positive. We can be upset for 10 minutes and then after that we’ve got to get our rest and get ready for Tuesday.”
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Scheifele scored two more goals in Game 2 to give him a league-leading eight through seven games.
The Jets wrestled away home-ice advantage thanks to their 4-1 victory at Bridgestone Arena on Friday and would like nothing better than to maintain it through Game 4 on Thursday. The Jets have won 12 consecutive games at Bell MTS Place starting in the latter part of the regular season through the first round of the playoffs against Minnesota.
Winnipeg had the best home record in the NHL in the regular season at 32-7-2. Coincidentally, their last loss was a 6-5 decision against the Predators on Feb. 27.
“These are tests, this time of year,” 36-year-old Jets center Matt Hendricks said from his locker stall Sunday night. “This is the hardest championship to win in pro sports and getting into these extra overtimes and testing your will, testing your conditioning and testing your mental game? This is what everybody has to go through.”
The Predators flew into Winnipeg on Monday afternoon and the President’s Trophy winners were jubilant as they checked into their downtown hotel.
Center Nick Bonino said he couldn’t remember the 6-5 win because it was so long ago, but he was sure they played a “solid” road game, as they did all year long. He said his team won’t be phased by the more than 15,000 fanatics who will be dressed in white on Tuesday and screaming themselves hoarse.
Nashville tied Tampa Bay for the most road wins in the NHL in the regular season with 25.
“We’ve been to a lot of buildings that are loud, but (Bridgestone and Bell MTS Place) are two of the loudest I think in the league,” he told The Tennessean. “It’s just like Nashville; it’s a loud arena with passionate fans. They wanted the team back in Winnipeg. They got it back and they have a great team now, so the fans are pumped up and ready to go.”
Game 4 will be Thursday night and, regardless of the outcome, the teams will return to Nashville for Game 5 on Saturday.