EditorsNote: adds new third graf
Blake Wheeler’s tiebreaking goal at 15:01 of the third period Tuesday night led the Winnipeg Jets to a 7-4 win over the visiting Nashville Predators in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals at Bell MTS Place.
The result gave the Jets a 2-1 series lead in a matchup of the NHL’s top two regular-season teams. Game 4 is Thursday night in Winnipeg.
The Jets trailed 3-0 after one period before scoring the only four goals of the second period.
With the score 4-4 late in the third and Nashville’s P.K. Subban in the penalty box for high-sticking, the Jets converted the third of their four man advantages in the period. Wheeler roofed a wrister from the bottom edge of the right circle.
Wheeler and Brandon Tanev added empty-netters in the final minute to continue Winnipeg’s run of home dominance. The Jets haven’t lost at home since Feb. 27, when Nashville rallied for a 6-5 victory.
Nashville tied the game at 7:40 of the third when Filip Forsberg wired a wrister over Connor Hellebuyck for his fifth playoff goal.
Hellebuyck made 26 saves, including a glove stop on Viktor Arvidsson’s breakaway that could have given the Predators a 5-4 lead just past the midway part of the third.
Pekka Rinne saved 38 of 43 shots in a losing cause.
Nashville completely dominated the first period. Mike Fisher initiated scoring with his first playoff goal since a triple-overtime game-winner in 2016, collecting the rebound of Mattias Ekholm’s point shot and poking it home at 4:53.
Subban made it 2-0 on the power play at 10:06 with his second goal, a one-timer from the top of the left circle that squirted through the pads of Hellebuyck. Austin Watson capped the period with his fifth of the playoffs at 17:35.
Winnipeg answered back by completely owning the second period. Paul Stastny got the Jets on the board at 2:38 by deflecting Jacob Trouba’s point blast for his third goal. It was originally ruled no goal, but the call overturned after a video review.
The Jets tied it with two goals in 18 seconds. Dustin Byfuglien bombed a slapper from between the circles at 5:11, followed by Trouba’s second goal of the playoffs after a Predators turnover. Byfuglien finished off the explosion at 19:15 with his third playoff tally on a one-timer from the left circle.
—Field Level Media