For the first time in Atlanta Thrashers – Winnipeg Jets history, this team won a playoff game. Doing so was as hard as that previous sentence made it seem.
Devan Dubnyk was truly fantastic for the Minnesota Wild in Game 1, keeping them in the game despite Winnipeg generating a 40-20 shots on goal advantage. Ultimately, a game-winning goal by unlikely hero Joe Morrow helped the Jets grind out a 3-2 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
That Morrow goal might have been a rare moment Dubnyk would want back:
Technically, the previous incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets won playoff games, but this is a special accomplishment for a team many expect to be one of the best teams of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While Dubnyk had a great night, you could see how Minnesota might struggle to steal wins from the high-octane Jets in this series, as the Wild didn’t put much pressure on Connor Hellebuyck despite emptying their net with far more than two minutes remaining in the third period.
That said, it’s worth noting that the Wild actually briefly took the lead. After entering the final frame down 1-0, Matt Cullen and Zach Parise made it 2-1 during a dizzying span four minutes into the third. Less than a minute later, Patrik Laine reminded hockey fans why he’s such a difference-maker, tying things up 2-2 in his first playoff appearance. Morrow then got that game-winner late in regulation.
With Ryan Suter on the shelf, the Wild are heavy underdogs. To that extent, they might not be too shaken by being down 1-0 in this series.
That said, these are the types of games an underdog might steal. Dubnyk nearly did that, while Matt Dumba also saw a great effort come up short, as the young defenseman logged a whopping 30:03 of ice time, easily the most of any skater in Game 1.
Bruce Boudreau will probably need to ask them to churn out similar work in Game 2 and beyond, which could be quite the ask. In a weird way, a close 3-2 loss for Wild might actually sting more than the Flyers getting decimated 7-0 by the Penguins in their own Game 1, even if Philly will be far more embarrassed.
Ultimately, Minnesota most hope that Game 1 is how this series looks, only with the Wild coming out on top going forward. If Winnipeg’s work tonight is any indication, that won’t be easy to accomplish.
Game 2 will take place on Friday on USA Network.