A preview as the Minnesota Wild look to capitalize on their Game 3 momentum and even up the series with the Winnipeg Jets at home.
So far in this first-round series between the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild, home ice has been the crucial factor. After two games in the raucous Bell MTS Place, both Winnipeg victories, the Wild returned home on Sunday evening and returned fire with a dominant 6-2 win.
Can the Jets bounce back, put a stranglehold on the series and pick up their first road playoff win in franchise history? They’ll need a rebound performance from goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who was pulled after 40 minutes Sunday after allowing four second-period goals.
It was an uncharacteristic defensive showing for the Jets, who gave up just three goals total during the first two games of the series. Winnipeg will have to stay out of the box and tighten up the penalty kill on Tuesday, as Minnesota capitalized on the man advantage for its first two goals of Sunday’s game.
Winnipeg was a heavy favorite entering the series, and won’t want it to go on any longer than necessary. With some of the best speed and offense in the league, the Jets must slam the door Tuesday with a barrage of scoring and another shutdown showing from Hellebuyck.
But if the Wild defend the Xcel Energy Center with another win, this series will get very interesting. Favorites or not, the Jets have no track record of postseason success. It’s hard to forget the weight of history when you’re pushed by a consistent franchise like the Wild.
Here’s how to watch the game on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET from the Xcel Energy Center.
Winnipeg Jets vs. Minnesota Wild
Date: Tuesday, April 17
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota
Live stream: Fubo TV. Sign up now for a free trial.
Zach Parise has been excellent per usual in this series, notching one goal in each of the first three games. But Minnesota got scoring from up and down its lineup in Game 3 — including a first-ever NHL goal from Team USA Olympic star Jordan Greenway — and will need more depth scoring to challenge the Jets in Game 4.
The Saint Paul crowd will be rocking once again, and it’s easy to see why home ice has been so important for these two geographical rivals. Nevertheless, I’m expecting a return to form for Hellebuyck and the Jets in Game 4, with fewer goals allowed and a better offensive showing from Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine.
Will that be enough? I believe so, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this game go down to the final minutes or even into overtime. As the Penguins showed Sunday, being dominated one day doesn’t mean anything the next. But the Wild have proven they won’t be going quietly. Give me the Jets to win a hard-fought 5-3 game.