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Jets Advance, Hammond Holds

Ryan Dadoun
Winnipeg will need to wait to see who their second round opponent will be after Andrew Hammond's heroics

The Winnipeg Jets became the third team to advance to the second round and won the first series in their franchise’s history in the process.  The Jets are not a team to be underestimated going forward and I’m sure we’ll be talking about them more in the near future.

With the Jets’ series-clinching victory essentially assured though, their fans started chanting, “We want Nashville,” as TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted.  Not so fast.

The Jets’ place is assured, but the Predators’ spot isn’t.  While they’re still the heavy favorite, Andrew Hammond was able to extend the narrative last night.

If you don’t remember Hammond for anything else, you likely know him as the goaltender who came up from the AHL in February 2015 to lead the Senators into the playoffs against all odds by posting a 20-1-2 record, 1.79 GAA, and .941 save percentage in 24 games.  Since then he hasn’t been nearly as effective and he fell out of favor so much that he was included as an extra piece in the Matt Duchene trade back in November.

The idea was that he’d just be the Avalanche’s third-string goaltender, stored in the AHL in case of an emergency.  That emergency situation occurred though because with the Avalanche losing their first rounds series against Nashville 3-1, they found themselves unable to start Jonathan Bernier or Semyon Varlamov due to injuries.

Perhaps Hammond can pull off a miracle for the second time in his career though.  He certainly got off on the right foot Friday by stopping 44 of 45 shots to force a Game 6.  The Predators still have two more opportunities to finish off the Avalanche, but if Hammond keeps playing like this, then there’s at least a chance that Jets fans won’t be getting Nashville after all.

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PHILADELPHIA 4 PITTSBURGH 2 (Penguins lead series 3-2)

For the longest time it looked like this contest would be decided in overtime.  However, Sean Couturier broke the 2-2 tie at 18:45 of the third period.  Couturier was making up for lost time after missing Game 4 due to a lower-body injury.

Michal Neuvirth also played a big role in this win by stopping 30 of 32 Penguins shots.  This was his first start of the series as the Flyers had employed Brian Elliott in the first four contests.

Valtteri Filppula found the back of the net and registered two assists.  He had been held off the scoresheet in the previous four playoff games.

Jake Guentzel scored a goal for the Penguins.  It was his second marker and eighth point in five games.

Matt Murray stopped 21 of 24 shots last night.  He’s earned two shutouts in this series, but has followed each of those perfect games up with a loss.

Games 6 will be played in Philadelphia at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

WINNIPEG 5 MINNESOTA 0 (Jets win series 4-1)

There wasn’t much tension in this one.  Jacob Trouba opened the scoring just 31 seconds into the contest.  By the time we hit the 11:59 minutes mark, Winnipeg had a 4-0 lead.

That prompted Devan Dubnyk, who stopped just six of 10 shots, to be pulled from the game.  Alex Stalock played for the remainder of the contest and saved a respectable 15 of 16 shots, but the damage was done.

While the Jets’ offense of course stood out in this one, Connor Hellebuyck also deserves plenty of credit for stopping the 30 shots he faced.  This was his second straight shutout as he also turned aside the Wild’s 30 shots on Tuesday.

Eric Staal got four shots on Hellebuyck Friday night.  Staal finished the series with a goal on 14 shots.

Mark Scheifele scored a goal and registered an assist.  He has four goals and five points in five playoff games.

COLORADO 2 NASHVILLE 1 (Predators lead series 3-2)

As noted above, Andrew Hammond stopped 44 of 45 shots to beat the Predators.  This was also his first career postseason win.

Despite Hammond’s strong play, for a little bit it did look like Nashville would win anyways.  The Predators broke the scoreless tie at 10:18 of the third period with a goal from Nick Bonino.  It was his first marker and second point of the series.

Gabriel Landeskog tied the game about five minutes later.  He’s been outstanding in this series with four goals and seven points in five games.

Sven Andrighetto netted the game-winning goal at 18:32 minutes of the third period.  It was his first career playoff point.

Pekka Rinne stopped 25 of 27 Avalanche shots.  This is the third time that he’s held Colorado to two goals in this series and the first time Nashville lost under those circumstances.

Game 6 will be in Colorado at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.