The Winnipeg Jets have done what most deemed highly unlikely, and some, impossible. Early Tuesday morning, the third-place Jets wrapped up their opening round playoff series with the Edmonton Oilers.
Taking just four outings to finish off their long-standing Albertan rivals, the Jets perfectly executed a rare underdog sweep, taking care of business by way of the series-minimum four games.
Concluding the opening round with yet another overtime victory, Winnipeg needed three additional periods to score a winner on Tuesday morning. Forward Kyle Connor and the Jets found the final goal of the series at 1:06 AM local time, to which brought about an eruption from both players and fans alike.
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“I was just trying to work as hard as I could to get back,” Connor said of the play leading to his game-winner. “Peeler [Neal Pionk] made a great play. He was on McDavid there, just to get his stick on it and whack it up the boards. I saw it coming and tried to skate as fast as I can. It’s our mentality, the whole overtime just get pucks to the net so just shot that one and, yeah, that one feels pretty good.”
Kyle Connor scores in triple overtime, Jets sweep the Oilers pic.twitter.com/yk2LI475V7
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 25, 2021
Ep 12: Biting, Montreal, COVID, and Penguins Sale Updateby Full Press Coverage on December 1, 2021 at 5:52 pm
Mike, Jim, and Chris […]
Game 4 of the North Division’s opening round featured nearly everything a fan would want to see in a playoff game. But even still, it can be difficult to sum up a seven-goal, triple-overtime, 107-minute hockey game. Despite that, Jets’ forward Mark Scheifele wrapped it up quite nicely.
“At the end of the day, we just stuck together,” he said. “We had faith in our room. We trusted the process, and by doing the right things over and over and over, we knew that we were going to come out on top. Whenever that adversity hit – they scored a goal, or we took a penalty, killed off a five-on-three, whatever that was – we stuck with it. I think it just speaks volumes for this room, the character we have in this room. Guys just never get down; we don’t get down on ourselves. We stuck with our game plan and because of that we came out on top.”
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Scheifele – the Jets’ point-scoring leader from the regular season – had two goals on the night, while his linemates Connor and Blake Wheeler also had two points each.
“It definitely didn’t feel like a sweep, that’s for sure,” Scheifele added. “We grinded it out every single game. There was no easy ice out there. They played fantastic too; they came back in games. They pushed us to the limit, but we just were on the right side of it for those four games. It was a battle each and every game. Every shift it was a battle. It was a full team effort and I’m definitely proud of every single guy in this room.”
Edmonton’s star centreman Connor McDavid agreed with Scheifele’s assessment.
“It’s a weird series, it’s a weird sweep for sure. You don’t usually see them like that, but it is what it is,” McDavid said. “Everyone put everything they had into it. Definitely proud of everyone. I thought we were the better team most of the night, too. Just frustrating, but that’s the way it goes.”
Being able to hold both McDavid and Leon Draisaitl without a point through two games was an exceptional accomplishment for Winnipeg on its own. But picking up four-straight wins was even greater a feat.
“It took all pieces of our game,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said of his team’s series win. “I think the idea going into this series was that the regular season was a tell somehow, and I didn’t feel that way. I think (Edmonton) is a very, very good team (with) the two best offensive players in the world. In a bunch of those games it was very close, much like the series. They’re all one-goal games. There was a piece to our game that got better in each one of those… With that being said, it’s one shot. At the end of this, it’s four games of one shot.”
Winning the first game 4-1, Winnipeg scored its final two goals on an empty Edmonton net, before Paul Stastny gave the Jets a 1-0 Game 2 victory in overtime. Nikolaj Ehlers scored the overtime-winner on Sunday night at Bell MTS Place, before Connor did it again the following night.
“If you just broke the statistic ‘four game sweep’, you would think there was domination there in the series or that you weren’t tested,” Maurice added. “The opposite would be true. Big come from behind win, they scored the first goal in Game 1 and stayed in the fight, scored empty net goals with the goaltender pulled, had your power play come through, your penalty kill come through, your goaltender come through. There was an awful lot. And playing against the two most elite, highly unusual players in the league. Really, a one of the kind of story that happened to us.”
Next up for Winnipeg is likely a date with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hold a slight edge in their series with the Montreal Canadiens. Whenever that battle wraps itself up, the Jets will know their opponent and calendar moving forward. But for now, it’s just practice as usual for the pushers of the brooms.