Saturday, April 8, 2017

{allcanada} Jets beat Predators 2-1, end season on 7-game win streak


WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) The Winnipeg Jets thought it was only fitting that Blake Wheeler scored to lead them to victory in their season finale.

Wheeler, the Jets' captain, scored a short-handed goal with 45 seconds left in regulation to lift the Jets to their franchise-record seventh straight win, 2-1 over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

''He just did a remarkable job, bringing the kids in, being an example for those kids,'' coach Paul Maurice said. ''So it was nice for him to get one, get the last one, have it be meaningful in the situation that we're in.''

With Joel Armia in the penalty box for tripping, Mark Scheifele carried the puck up the center of the ice, waited for Wheeler to get near the net and then sent him a pass he used for a low backhander past Pekka Rinne. It was Wheeler's 26th goal.

Winnipeg was already eliminated from the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons since relocating from Atlanta, but ended the season in record-breaking form for the Jets/Thrashers franchise.

''When you have chemistry with a guy like him, the chemistry that we've kind of formed here the last couple of years, it's a pretty special feeling,'' Wheeler said of Scheifele. ''We were kind of knocking on the door all game and what a play he made to send me in. That one felt good.''

Kyle Connor, playing in his first NHL game since Nov. 29, also scored for Winnipeg, which is 10-2-1 in its last 13 games. Ryan Ellis had a short-handed goal for Nashville.

Nashville has 94 points and will hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Calgary also has 94 points and was playing San Jose later Saturday night, but the Flames hold the tiebreaker over the Predators and get the first wild-card berth. The Predators will face Chicago in the first round.

''It's a great challenge for us,'' Rinne said of the Blackhawks. ''It's a world-class team and we obviously look forward to playing against them, but we've got to prepare well for next week.''

Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves for the Jets, while Rinne had 34 stops for Nashville.

Nashville had a two-man advantage for 1:12 midway through the second after penalties to Chris Thorburn and Dustin Byfuglien, but Hellebuyck made a couple of good saves and his teammates blocked a few shots.

Back from missing one game with an injury, Ellis took advantage of Bryan Little's turnover to score his 16th goal of the season at 11:31 of the second. The unassisted marker came with teammate Viktor Arvidsson in the penalty box for hooking.

With under five minutes left in the second, Nashville unsuccessfully used a coaches challenge on a no-goal by Arvidsson.

A turnover by Nashville's Anthony Biletto at center ice gave Adam Lowry the puck, and he sent a pass to Connor for his second goal of the season at 10:47. Connor was called up from Manitoba of the AHL last Monday.

''I'm not happy with the last 10 minutes,'' Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ''The first 50 minutes, I was really happy. We were skating well, we were in control of the game. I thought we played a real strong game.''

NOTES: Scheifele finished as Winnipeg's leading scorer with 82 points in 79 games, including 32 goals. Both were a career high. ... Wheeler ended on a season-high eight-game point streak with four goals and seven assists. ... Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen each finished with 61 points, with Johansen playing all 82 games and Arvidsson 80.


Predators: Regular season over. Await first-round playoff matchup with Chicago Blackhawks.

Jets: Season over.


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