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This article was published 30/4/2018 (1113 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The late-night flight home and a restless sleep, video work with coaches and some kibitzing with teammates pretty much summed up the 16 hours that followed the Winnipeg Jets’ most crushing loss of the year.
All signs Monday afternoon, however, suggested the torment of a double-overtime defeat had dulled considerably.
"Something we talked about (Sunday) night, we’re all disappointed to lose in a game in double overtime. It’s tough, but you have to park it right away, as soon as you get on the plane and come back home here," said defenceman Josh Morrissey, who spoke with reporters at Bell MTS Place.
"We’re pretty happy that we’re coming home with a split. Obviously, we’re disappointed (Sunday) night but I think we’re in a pretty good spot. I just feel we can be a little bit better each game. That game, Game 2, was a big improvement from Game 1 as far as we were concerned. If we can continue to do that, we’re happy with the position we’re in."
Nashville forward Kevin Fiala put a sudden halt to a 4-4 tie Sunday night with his third goal of the playoffs, lifting the Predators to a dramatic triumph over the visiting Jets.
'It's tough, but you have to park it right away, as soon as you get on the plane and come back home here' ‐ Josh Morrissey
The NHL’s premier squads during the regular season are locked up 1-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series. Game 3 is set for 7 p.m at Winnipeg’s downtown arena, as inhospitable a site as anywhere in the NHL. The Jets went 32-7-2 at Bell MTS Place this season, best in the NHL.
Predictably, only a modest group of Winnipeg players chose to participate in an optional on-ice workout the morning after what was, for the majority of Jets, the longest game of their pro careers. Fiala’s backhand past goalie Connor Hellebuyck sent the Bridgestone Arena crowd into hysterics at 5:37 of the second OT session.
Mark Scheifele’s second goal of the contest, his league-leading eighth of the postseason with 65 seconds left in regulation and Hellebuyck on the bench in favour of an extra skater, pulled the Jets even at 4-4.
Soaring home from Music City at midnight with a 2-0 series lead on the Presidents’ Trophy winners (the NHL team with the best regular-season record) in Round 2 would have been a dazzling scenario for the Jets, just a year removed from missing the playoffs entirely.
"The split’s a fact. That’s your minimum goal going into your first two, you want to make sure that you get a win to get the game back onto your ice," said head coach Paul Maurice. "But when you get into double overtime, you certainly want two at that point. So, you’re still feeling the pain for it. You just have to deal with it today so it’s not a part of your tomorrow."
Settling for a win in Game 1 and nabbing home-ice advantage is a radiant silver lining.
The Jets are on a 12-0 run at Bell MTS Place, including a three-game sweep of their home games against the Minnesota Wild in the opening round.
Hellebuyck said the deafening din created by thousands of white-clad fans inside the building — not to mention thousands more jammed in at a downtown street party — is like a not-so-secret weapon.
"We’re going to be calling out to our fans to really put the pressure on, because we have that ability here. Our fan base is awesome, our noise can carry some serious momentum," he said.
"I wasn’t fazed as much as I thought I would (in Nashville). Obviously, the atmosphere is awesome, a little bit crazy. But I like ours a lot more. I think ours is way more hockey related and a lot more stinging than theirs was. I’m looking forward to (Game 3) and seeing how much this amps up."
Hellebuyck will start his eighth straight of the postseason tonight. He was absolutely sensational in Friday’s 4-1 triumph, stopping 47 shots.
Two nights later he made 36 saves and nearly snared the shot off Fiala’s stick.
"Would you believe me if I said 99 per cent? It was practically in my glove, it just happened to roll up and over," said Hellebuyck.
A finalist — along with Rinne and Tampa Bay Lighting puck-stopper Andrei Vasilevskiy — for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie, Hellebuyck said he’s feeding off the pressure of playoff hockey and the added strain of overtime.
"I think that’s what we enjoy — all on the line, get those nerves going and you have a chance to be a hero. That’s what everyone likes. We have a huge fan base, a lot of eyes on us and if you don’t enjoy that you’re in the wrong sport. We’re here to have some fun, too."
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).