Perreault feeling fit and good to go

Jets forward done with playing games, wants to get into game


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Mathieu Perreault was being playful a few days ago. Now, he just wants to play.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/05/2018 (1850 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mathieu Perreault was being playful a few days ago. Now, he just wants to play.

The Winnipeg Jets forward, who suffered a shoulder injury three weeks ago in the team’s first game of the playoffs, is eager to return to the lineup.

Perreault received medical clearance Tuesday, so it’s head coach Paul Maurice’s choice whether or not to call on the shifty veteran for Game 4 against the Nashville Predators tonight.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jets forward Mathieu Perreault wasn’t wearing the yellow, ‘non-contact’ sweater at Wednesday’s practice. He says he’s ready to play whenever the team needs him.

Winnipeg will be out to grab a 3-1 series lead. Game time is 8:30 p.m. at Bell MTS Place.

“Yeah, I talk to almost all of the guys every day. (Perreault’s) not wearing a yellow sweater so that puts him in a good spot,” Maurice said guardedly Wednesday.

Perreault would replace either Matt Hendricks or Jack Roslovic in the lineup, in likely a fourth-line role.

“I think I’m ready to go, so it comes down to if the coaches want to make some changes or stick with the lineup they have right now. As far as me being healthy, I’m good,” Perreault said, following an optional skate Wednesday.

“I’m 100 per cent. I don’t feel it when I shoot at all, I’ve been grinding and bumping the last two days, battling against the boards, and not once where I felt a tweak or had a setback. I haven’t had any tweaks in over a week, so it’s good.”

On Monday, Perreault wore a regular navy jersey during a morning skate — giving the impression he was a healthy participant — but was back in a yellow “non-contact” jersey Tuesday morning, causing a lot of guesswork by puzzled media members.

Forty-eight hours later, he fessed up to the shell game.

“The first day, I had a yellow in my stall but I put a blue on. That was me messing with you guys. And then, the next day, (coaches) said, ‘No, you have to wear yellow.’ I was just having some fun,” he said, laughing.

Perreault missed the final four games of the Jets’ series victory over the Wild and all three battles with the Predators. He watched nervously from the press box Tuesday night as his teammates rallied from a 3-0 first-period deficit to defeat the Preds 7-4.

Perreault admitted he was like a kid watching a thriller on TV at some points.

“A roller-coaster of emotion,” he said. “At 4-4, (Viktor Arvidsson gets) that breakaway, I literally didn’t look. I went like this (hands covering eyes), ‘Oh, no’ and then I hear the crowd cheer. I couldn’t even watch. That’s how painful it is to watch from up there.”

Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck made a huge glove save on Arvidsson to maintain the tie, setting the stage for a pair of goals by Blake Wheeler, one into an empty net. Brandon Tanev also potted an empty-netter, his fourth goal in each of the last four games.

● ● ●

Hellebuyck did not have a first period to remember in the Winnipeg net Tuesday night, but sharpened up considerably — not unlike the rest of the team.

In particular, P.K. Subban’s point shot squeezed through his pads at 10:06, and then he waved at Austin Watson’s wrister, but couldn’t snare it at 17:35.

He finished with 26 saves, allowing a pair of even-strength goals and two with the Jets shorthanded.

None was bigger than his stop on Arvidsson, who raced in on a breakaway with 9:22 left in the third.

“I thought, if I’m going to make an impact on this game, it’s definitely this moment,” Hellebuyck, 24, said. “He’s coming down, and I just wanted to look calm, as usual. And I got a good bead on it and he put it right where I thought he was going to.”

Hellebuyck, whose 44-win regular season earned him a Vezina Trophy nomination, is 6-2 during the postseason with a 2.36 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.

He admits those numbers could take a beating against a powerhouse squad like the Predators — and he feels for the guy at the other end of the ice, Pekka Rinne, who has yielded 14 goals to the explosive Jets in three contests.

“Yeah, I really hope the media’s not all over him, because that’s just the way we play each other. It’s happened all season long, and it’s continuing on in the playoffs,” Hellebuyck said. “There’s a lot of offence. And it’s not like the defence isn’t playing well. The defence is playing phenomenal, especially the guys in front of me. They’re playing just unbelievable. There’s just that much offence going around.

“This series isn’t fun for a goalie. I just have to play better than the guy across from me. 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 bit, but at the end of the day, especially at this time of year, the wins are all that matter.”

● ● ●

It was a decision made with the greatest of intentions, but the results were damaging.

Luckily, Jack Roslovic’s teammates bailed him out.

With the Jets up 4-3, the rookie winger impeded the progress of Nashville forward Colton Sissons in the neutral zone at 6:50 of the third period, setting up a power-play chance for the visitors.

“You want to give the (defence) as much time as they possibly can with the puck, and I was a little over-extended on my shift at the end of the power play there and I was trying to get off the ice, so I was trying to go left to get into his way and also kind of head to the bench,” Roslovic said.

Just 50 seconds later, Filip Forsberg scored the tying goal, signalling an early release from the sin bin for Roslovic, and a burdensome skate back to the bench.

No coaches spoke to him when he took a seat. There was really no need.

“You never want to take a penalty that leads to a goal, especially at that time of the game with that score,” said Roslovic, 21, who played sparingly in Game 3 with just over eight minutes of ice time on the fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Andrew Copp.

“Definitely, you know as a player when you mess up. It is a learning experience, and I don’t think I’ll do that again.”

Earlier in the game, he showed some tremendous hustle, streaking back to break up a Predators’ rush. The effort did not go unnoticed by his coach, who is well aware the on-the-job training continues for many of his young players getting their first taste of NHL playoff hockey.

“Everybody makes mistakes. If I’m going to try to mould a man’s character, I’ll do it in the regular season. I’ll make a statement. (Roslovic) made a mistake, but he also made a spectacular backcheck to save us a goal,” Maurice said. “There was a lot of good in his game, too.”

jason.bell@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).


Updated on Thursday, May 3, 2018 6:40 AM CDT: Adds photo

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