'If we have to win a game 10-9, we might as well,' Jets goalie says after dramatic win over Predators
Winnipeg's series against Nashville is generating all the offence that was promised, says Connor Hellebuyck
In the space of a day, the stoic resolve that characterized the Winnipeg Jets has morphed into a more upbeat sensibility.
A come-from-behind victory at home has a way of doing that to a hockey team.
Tuesday night's 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators left several members of the Jets in a buoyant mood as the club prepares for Game 4 of their second-round NHL playoff series, which the Jets now lead by a 2-1 margin.
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Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who has allowed 10 goals in three games during this series so far, expressed confidence his teammates can continue to keep pace with the Predators, even if both teams continue to score frequently.
"We're a great team. We have all the aspects. If we have to win a game 10-9, we might as well. I'm OK with that. Hurts the stats a little bit but at the end of the day, the wins are all that matter," the Vezina-nominated goalie said following a Wednesday skate.
"That's just the way these two teams play each other. High-octane offence."
Hellebuyck suggested he was aware he held the fate of Game 3 in his hands near middle of the third period, when Viktor Arvidsson of the Predators skated in on a breakaway.
"I thought if I was going to make an impact on this game, it's definitely in this moment," said Hellebuyck, whose save on the play kept the game at a 4-4 tie and set the stage for Jets captain Blake Wheeler's go-ahead goal.
When the game's on the line and we need a big save, he's always coming up with them.- Centre Bryan Little on Connor Hellebuyck
"I kind of got a got a good bead on it and [Arvidsson] put it right where I thought he was going to."
Jets centre Bryan Little also described that moment as one of many turning points in a dramatic game where Nashville went up 3-0 in the first period before the Jets stormed back with a four-goal second frame.
"He's made those plays for us all year," Little said of Hellebuyck. "When the game's on the line and we need a big save, he's always coming up with them, and that breakaway save was huge for us."
Other Jets waxed poetic about defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, who scored two goals on Tuesday and continued to be a physical presence on the ice.
"When he throws his body around or dances after a goal, it gets the guys going a bit," said defenceman Tyler Myers.
The players also continued to cite the energy they derive from Winnipeg fans.
"This moment is awesome. The city is awesome. They're so behind us," Hellebuyck said.
"We carry so much momentum off our fans and the way they get into games, there's nothing like it. There's no place like it.… This is one of the most fun times I'll ever have playing."
Game 4 is slated for 8:30 p.m. CT Thursday at Bell MTS Place.