When the head coach makes a decision that doesn’t pan out, he always shoulders too much of the blame, but when he hits on one, he ends up looking like a genius.
Label Winnipeg bench boss Paul Maurice in that latter category following Game 5 against the Nashville Predators.
After tweaking his top-six earlier in the series (successfully) looking for a spark, Maurice went back to his regular lines, and they dominated offensively to lead the Jets to a 6-2 victory, and a 3-2 series lead. Kyle Connor scored twice, and Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny also scored, with the Jets top two lines doing the heavy lifting. Blake Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault rounded out the big night for Winnipeg.
Connor, who led all NHL rookies with 31 goals in the regular season, but was held scoreless through his first nine playoff games, was placed back on a line with Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. That line clicked in a big way, accounting for half of the Jets goals, two from the 21-year-old Connor, who scored Winnipeg’s second and fourth goals. He also assisted on Scheifele’s tally early in the third period to take the wind out of the Jets sails.
While the Jets came out of the second period with a 4-2 lead, the first period ended scoreless, thanks in large to Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. He stopped all 11 shots he faced in the one period of play that the home team controlled. But the Jets got out of that period scoreless, and then scored four times in the second to take control of Game 5.
Now the series shifts back to Winnipeg and MTS Centre, where the Jets have lost once in five games this postseason, with a chance to clinch a berth in the Western Conference Final.
Yannick Weber and Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators on Saturday. Pekka Rinne stopped 20 of 26 shots before he was chased in the third period in favor of Juuse Saros. Mathieu Perreault, playing in his first game since the Jets opened the postseason with Game 1 of their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, beat Rinne on the power play 6:23 into the third period to cut his night short.
Johansen scored shorthanded with just over two minutes remaining in the second period to cut the Predators deficit to 4-2 and give Nashville some life. The Jets had taken control with three unanswered goals after Weber tied the game at 1-1 at the 11:08 mark of the second period.
But the Jets old top-six was just too effective, bringing the Jets to within a game of its first Western Conference Final.
Sporting news will be providing live updates during the game (all times Eastern).

12:06 a.m. Under five minutes to play in regulation and still a 6-2 Jets lead. All that’s left is to see this one out.

11:54 p.m. The Jets still holding that 4-2 lead past the midway point in the third. Kevin Fialia hit a post a few minutes ago, which could have cut the deficit to three and kept a faint hope of a comeback alive. Winnipeg on a power play here with Mattias Ekholm in the box for cross-checking. 

11:44 p.m. That will do it for Pekka Rinne, and that will probably do it for Nashville. Rinne allows his sixth goal on the Jets’ 26th shot of the game, this one courtesy Mathieu Perreault, who connects on the power play 6:23 into the third. Jets lead, 6-2

MATTY ON THE SPOT!!🚨: Mathieu Perreault🍎: @NikolajEhlers24HIGHLIGHTS >> https://t.co/pJXRITzi4j#WPGWhiteout #GoJetsGo #NSHvsWPG pic.twitter.com/mE3Mc6hpkX— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) May 6, 2018

11:35 p.m. Paul Maurice pushing all the right buttons. With his top-six reunited, Kyle Connor dangles a puck through his own legs before going cross-ice to Mark Scheifele. It’s Connor’s third point of the night with the primary assist, and Scheifele’s ninth goal of these playoffs. It comes just 28 seconds into the third. Jets lead, 5-2

11:34 p.m. Third period underway from Bridgestone Arena. Twenty minutes separating the Jets from a 3-2 series lead.

NHL playoffs 2018: Jets’ Connor dishes sweet assist to go with two goals in Game 5

11:28 p.m. The Jets flipped the script in the second period in a big way.

Scoring chances in the 1st period: 10-3 Nashville.Scoring chances in the 2nd period: 12-4 Winnipeg.Jets lead 4-2 after 40.#WPGWhiteout #StandWithUs pic.twitter.com/cVlZmHm48t— The Point (@PNThockey) May 6, 2018

11:15 p.m. Alright, deep breaths, folks. After a scoreless first, the Jets and Predators combine for six goals in the second period. Jets took a 1-0 lead, Predators tied it up, and then Winnipeg powered back with three straight. Ryan Johansen with a late shorthanded tally to cut the Predators deficit to two. Stil, the Jets are now 20 minutes away from taking a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 on deck in Winnipeg.

11:11 p.m. Well, maybe a shorthanded opportunity was all the Predators needed. Ryan Johansen gets out into the open ice on a 2-on-1, and he manages to squeak a shot under the arm of Connor Hellebuyck. Massive, massive lift for Nashville late in the second, though they still have some penalty to kill here. Jets lead, 4-2

Pass option? Negative. Top shelf shorthanded? Positive. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/qq0YizR0Is— NHL (@NHL) May 6, 2018

11:10 p.m. Things could really get out of hand hear quickly for Nashville. Now Viktor Arivdsson is heading to the penalty box for slashing with 2:37 to play in the second for slashing.

11:09 p.m. Have a game, Kyle Connor. After the NHL’s rookie goal-scoring leader from the regular season got his first playoff goal earlier in the second period, he doubles up with another. Really heady pass by Blake Wheeler to find Connor cutting toward the net, and he snaps one home. The Jets have now scored three unanswered after the Predators tied it up. Jets lead, 4-1

.@KyleConnor18’s second of the game puts the @NHLJets up 4-1. pic.twitter.com/IcVCFm4NtS— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) May 6, 2018

11:01 p.m. Oh man what a response by Winnipeg after that Weber goal. They’re just everywhere in the zone, all over loose pucks (and a nice job by the refs not to blow the play dead during a net-front scramble) but the Jets work the puck back to the blue line from there, and Dustin Byfuglien hammers a puck pass everyone, including Rinne. The Jets get two goals in a 2:05 span after the Predators had tied it. Jets lead, 3-1

Yeah, good luck seeing that puck, Pekka. pic.twitter.com/04vZReTmvB— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) May 6, 2018

11:00 p.m. Patrik Laine maybe starting to feel it a bit now. Takes a nice pass from Mathieu Perreault and rips a shot off the crossbar. Nearly made it a two-goal lead for Winnipeg, who is buzzing now.

10:58 p.m. Jets top line comes right back up ice and regains the lead. Kyle Connor shoots one wide but a scramble ensues in front. Mark Scheifele throws it back toward the crease, and Kyle locates the puck, and flips it past Pekka Rinne, his first career playoff goal. The game was tied for all of 82 seconds. Jets lead, 2-1

Jets are back on top thanks to @KyleConnor18. pic.twitter.com/bdnU99WWgC— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) May 6, 2018

10:55 p.m. The Predators don’t waste much time tying this game back up. Yannick Weber carries the puck hard into the zone down the wing, and manages to sneak a shot past Connor Hellebuyck up high; it gets a piece of his arm and then sails in just under the bar. The goals come 3:24 of games time apart. The game is tied, 1-1

10:49 pm. Shoot the puck and good things happen, they say. Patrik Laine throws one toward Pekka Rinne, but it deflects off Paul Stastny’s glove atop the crease and into the back of the net. Winnipeg gets the lead in period two on the road at the 7:44 mark, Stastny’s fourth of the playoffs. Jets lead, 1-0

.@PatrikLaine29 shoots it off of @PaulyWalnuts26 for a 1-0 @NHLJets lead. pic.twitter.com/hurGNlVQBt— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) May 6, 2018

Patrik Laine’s point streak now at six games. He’s got three goals and six assists during that time. Paul Stastny also push his point streak to six games. He has two goals and seven assists during it. #NHLJets— Scott Billeck (@ScottBilleck) May 6, 2018

10:47 p.m. This game is heating up in a big way. Kyle Connor finds Wheeler on a 2-on-1 but Rinne stretches out to deny him with his right pad. Winnipeg stays on the puck and it looks like Yannick Weber prevented a sure goal when he blocks a Wheeler wrap-around try in the crease.

10:46 p.m. Can’t say the Predators aren’t getting their chances. Two more looks for Ryan Johansen in tight on the right post, the first stopped by Hellebuyck, and the second thrown wide of the net.

10:44 p.m. Teams trading some chances early in the second. Craig Smith gets a chance right off a faceoff that Connor Hellebuyck stops. At the other end, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele work a neat little two-man game, but Pekka Rinne is there for the save.

10:36 p.m. Back for period two, with the Predators trying to keep the momentum. (Slight delay for another catfish on the ice, this one without sombrero.)

NHL playoffs 2018: Predators fans christen Game 5 with Cinco de Mayo-themed catfish

10:17 p.m. The first period comes to an end in Nashville, and the Jets are lucky to come out of it scoreless. Winnipeg got a decent push to open regulation, but then it was all Predators for the second half of this period. Predators lead in shot on goal, 11-7, but have dominated in the scoring chances department.

10:11 p.m. It’s been all Predators for about the past 10 minutes. Now it’s Viktor Arvidsson flying down the wing with the puck on his stick, but Connor Hellebuyck swallows up his shot and leaves no rebound. With just over three minutes to play in the first period, shots are now 9-6 Nashville, and they have seven of the past eight on-goal in this game.

10:07 p.m. That Kyle Turris line just spent another shift in the Predators end. Fiala spins and throws one through the crease that no one can get a stick on. But every time those three forwards hop over the boards they seem to be playing in Nashville’s end.

10:02 p.m. Another good chance for the Turris line. Craig Smith with a shot to the glove side that looked like it might have been labeled but it actually hits Turris in front and stays out.

Scoring chances at even strength are 6-0 Nashville, 3-0 in high-danger shot attempts.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) May 6, 2018

10:00 p.m. A few more close calls for Nashville. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen both with whacks at the puck from in tight. Not sure if either or both of those attempts actually made it on-goal, but neither made it past Connor Hellebuyck. Mark Scheifele looks like he actually blocked one from in the crease. Predators starting to generate more zone-time though after the Jets had the early territorial advantage. 

9:58 p.m. Kevin Fiala, back in the lineup, with a good look from the slot but he whips the shot high. His line with Turris and Craig Smith has been the Predators’ best in the early goings, and hems the Jets in for a shift there.

9:57 p.m. Sans that early chance for Turris, not much doing for either team midway through the first period. Jets with an early lead in the shots department, 5-2.

9:52 p.m. Predators fans can breathe; Colton Sissons is back on the bench.

9:50 p.m. Colton Sissons blocks a Patrik Laine slap shot but looks a lot worse for it. He gets back to the bench but is now heading to the locker room.

9:48 p.m. Kyle Turris pops a rebound just wide of the goal with some net to shoot at. Connor Hellebuyck stopped Victor Arvidsson’s initial shot but Turris plays the rebound off the side of the cage.

9:42 p.m. Game 5 is underway in Nashville between the Jets and Predators.

CINCO DE MAYO THEMED CATFISH pic.twitter.com/OKh3KI2UBy— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) May 6, 2018

9:32 p.m. Strength-on-strength to start this one, with each team sending out the big guns.

Introducing tonight’s #WPGWhiteout #NHLJets starting lineup presented by @RedRiverMutual & @LaSalleIns! #NSHvsWPG pic.twitter.com/BPoXcOlqRm— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) May 6, 2018

#Preds starters: Johansen, Forsberg, Arvidsson, Ekholm & Subban. Pekka Rinne stops the pucks.Preds scratches: Bitetto, Tolvanen, Hartnell, Jarnkrok, Emelin, Lindback, Zolnierczyk, Gaudreau, Pettersson, Bollig, Gaudet, Carrier, Allard, Granberg & Grosenick.#WPGvsNSH— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) May 6, 2018

9:28 p.m. It sounds like Bridgestone Arena is fired up for Game 5.

PA announcer tells raucous Bridgestone Arena throng about #nhljets Wheeler insinuating some buildings outside of Winnipeg (nudge nudge, wink wink) might pipe in noise instead of the pure natural kind. Atta way to get ’em cranked up. #preds— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) May 6, 2018

9:08 p.m. With the Jets going through line rushes, looks like Mathieu Perreault will start on a line with Bryan Little and Joel Armia, while Adam Lowry will center Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev.

#NHLJets line rushes: Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler, Ehlers-Stastny-Laine, Copp-Lowry-Tanev, Perreault-Little-Armia. D pairings: Morrissey-Trouba, Enstrom-Byfuglien, Chiarot-Myers. Hellebuyck in goal for Game 5 vs #Preds— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) May 6, 2018

Getting warm in Nashville 🔥 #NSHvsWPG pic.twitter.com/vkzztiQEJu— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) May 6, 2018

9:04 p.m. The teams have taken the ice for warmups, and the Predators and Jets both appear to be making one change up front, as reported earlier.

As expected, Kevin Fiala for Scott Hartnell will be the Predators’ only lineup change this evening.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) May 6, 2018

No surprises and no extras on ice for #NHLJets in pre-game warm-up. Mathieu Perreault will replace Matt Hendricks— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) May 6, 2018

The Jets opened this series on the road by stealing Game 1, before Nashville even things up with a double-overtime victory in Game 2. Winnipeg defended its home ice with a comeback victory in Game 3, but the Predators put in a strong defensive effort to win Game 4 at MTS Centre.
The back-and-forth, slim-margin-for-error series will continue on Saturday.
As for the respective lineups, it appears forward Kevin Fiala will be back in for the Predators up front after being a healthy scratch in Game 4. He was replaced by forward Scott Hartnell, who logged 11:46 of ice time, four hits, and three shots on goals taking Fiala’s spot. It was Hartnell’s second game this postseason.
For the Jets, the only question that remains is if Mathieu Perreault will be reinserted into the lineup. An upper-body injury sustained in Game 1 of the first round has kept Perreault out ever since. More recently, he’s been back on the ice, but head coach Paul Maurice has been coy about his status, and when he might come back. Perreault did leave the ice for morning skate with the rest of the Jets regular while Matt Hendrick stayed on, a sign Perreault could be back in.
Here is the Jets projected lineup:
Nikolaj Ehlers – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor – Paul Stastny – Patrik Laine
Joel Armia – Mathieu Perreault – Bryan Little
Brandon Tanev – Adam Lowry – Andrew Copp
Josh Morrissey – Jacob Trouba
Toby Enstrom – Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot – Tyler Myers
Connor Hellebuyck
Here is the Predators projected lineup:
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Colton Sissons – Nick Bonino – Austin Watson
Mikka Salomaki – Mike Fisher – Ryan Hartman
Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm – P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin – Yannick Weber
Pekka Rinne (function() {
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