NASHVILLE — Neither the Winnipeg Jets nor Nashville Predators has won consecutive games in the series, so the probability of a Game 7 back in Tennessee is high.

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This article was published 6/5/2018 (1311 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

NASHVILLE — Neither the Winnipeg Jets nor Nashville Predators has won consecutive games in the series, so the probability of a Game 7 back in Tennessee is high.

Nashville has looked fallible during crucial stages of the series, but still boasts a deep pool of skilled, strong forwards and the NHL’s premier top-four blue-line corps. All-world goalie Pekka Rinne has had a disappointing series, but will have a shot at redemption.

MARK HUMPHREY / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice gestures to his team during the third period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators, Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Maurice maintains the team is the most gifted and capable club he's ever guided.</p>

MARK HUMPHREY / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice gestures to his team during the third period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators, Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Maurice maintains the team is the most gifted and capable club he's ever guided.

Simply put, this will be a tough team to put on ice tonight.

"There’s no uncontested ice. So, when they’re playing their game and we’re playing ours it’s almost identical in terms of attitude without the puck. You don’t move the puck easily, so frustration then for both teams is built right into the style of play," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said Sunday morning. "That’s how both teams had the seasons that they did. They didn’t give any ice, they’re hard to play against."

Winnipeg leads the best-of-seven NHL playoff series 3-2. Game 6 goes tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Bell MTS Place, while a Game 7, if necessary, would be held Thursday at the home of the Preds, Bridgestone Arena.

Maurice, who has 20 years of NHL head coaching experience and led the Carolina Hurricanes to the 2002 Stanley Cup final before losing to the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings, is confident the Jets can endure.

It’s the most gifted and capable club he’s ever guided, he maintains.

"I’ve been fortunate to coach some teams that I thought had pretty good men.

"We’ve got pretty good men here, too. But the talent level on this team wouldn’t be close to anything I’ve coached."


 

It would aid the Jets’ cause if Nikolaj Ehlers could catch fire the way Kyle Connor did with his tremendous two-goal performance Saturday night.

Ehlers still hasn’t scored in nine playoff games, while Patrik Laine has just one tally against the Preds in the second-round series.

While the young Europeans work through the ups and downs of the playoff grind, they need only look to their centre to catch a glimpse of a guy making a major difference.

The Paul Stastny deadline deal cost the Jets a first-round draft pick, forward prospect Erik Foley and a fourth-round pick. But, Stastny is showing he’s worth his weight in gold. He’s been a model of consistency and an offensive catalyst, scoring four goals and adding seven assists in 10 playoff games.

He said while agreeing to waive his no-trade clause was difficult, adapting to the Jets way of doing things has been comfortable.

"You have these hopes, but at the same time you don’t want the exact opposite to happen. You’re nervous, at first, but excited. It’s a mixed bag of emotions. And, the last thing I wanted to do, was step on toes or mess up the chemistry that was already on this team," Stastny said. "Lucky for me, the team has such a strong chemistry that no one person can disrupt anything.

"Starting with (Blake Wheeler) and (Dustin Byfuglien) and the coaching staff, they made it easy for me, made it a smooth transition for me."


 

Expect the madness at Bell MTS Place to rise to a whole new level tonight.

With a spot in the NHL’s final four on the line, Jets fans will be ready to blow the roof off the downtown rink.

"I don’t know if they can yell louder. I don’t know what the cap is on that, we all have a threshold. But there can be more, right?" Maurice said. "The most enjoyable piece is before the game starts, we’ve got video feeds in the coach’s offices, you get the view of the crowd outside and you drive to the rink and back and there’s the flags and people wearing sweaters. There’s a great big party going on in Winnipeg, kind of outside our room. It’s fun to watch.’’

Blake Wheeler said the team shares all its success with its supporters.

"It’s not our celebration, it’s for the people of Winnipeg. They’ve been with us every step of the way through this journey, and good on them for enjoying every moment. That’s what they should be doing," he said.

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

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant 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).