WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Winnipeg Jets have the President’s Trophy winners on the ropes and can move into the Western Conference finals with a victory on home ice Monday night in Game 6.
The Nashville Predators, however, will have something to say about that.
When you consider no team in this series has been able to put together two consecutive victories, it is a good bet that the winner will not be decided until Thursday night in the Music City.
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Whoever it is will take on the Vegas Golden Knights, who continued their Cinderella story on Sunday night by conquering the San Jose Sharks 3-0 to take their series 4-2.
The Jets took a gigantic step towards meeting Vegas on Saturday night when they put four goals past Pekka Rinne in the second period, ultimately chasing the odds-on favorite for the Vezina Trophy in what became a 6-2 victory.
The win was all the most surprising considering the stifling defense put on display by the Predators in clogging the neutral zone in a 2-1 win in Game 4 in Winnipeg.
The Jets have won 13 of their last 14 games at Bell MTS Place but the winning streak is bookended by a pair of losses to the Predators.
Captain Blake Wheeler said he and his teammates are excited about the possibility of clinching a series on home ice in front of another “White Out” with more than 15,000 fans decked out in white plus more than 20,000 others expected to be outside at the street party.
“I’m probably not going to do any grocery shopping (before the game),” he joked after practice on Sunday.
“We’re expecting (the Predators’) best game of the season but we haven’t worried about the other team all year and we’re not going to start worrying about the other team now. This is a great opportunity for our team. We’re full-on expecting to play our best game of the season (Monday) night. It gives us no guarantees but if we play our best game of the year, it gives us an opportunity to win,” he said.
Predators defenseman PK Subban, who has been booed non-stop by Jets fans whenever he touches the puck, virtually guaranteed that his team would push the series to the limit.
“We’re a character group and we have a ton of experience here,” he told The Tennessean. “We’re going to go to Winnipeg, we’re going to win a game and we’re going to come back here (to Nashville). Every single guy in here believes that.
“We’ve had our backs against the wall before. We have to park this loss real quick and get ready to win Game 6 on the road. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’s going to be great for our hockey club. We’re going to build a lot of character out of that game and bring it back home.”
The Jets, who are as healthy as they’ve been all season, could have defenseman Dmitry Kulikov back in their lineup on Monday. Out for the last two months with a back injury, he has been practicing in a regular-contact jersey for several days.