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Jets’ Ehlers expected to be available for Game 4

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Nikolaj Ehlers was a surprise scratch for the Winnipeg Jets for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday night due to a previously undisclosed ailment.

On Friday it was finally revealed that Ehlers missed the game due to an illness (via Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun) and that he should be available for Game 4 in Vegas. There is still no official word on whether or not he will be in the lineup, however. He has not skated in three days. In his absence rookie forward Jack Roslovic was inserted into the lineup while Brandon Tanev took his place on the second line.

Without Ehlers on Wednesday the Jets dropped their second game in a row and struggled to find a way to beat Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury’s play, combined with a lack of secondary scoring, has the Jets facing a 2-1 series deficit.

Even though Ehlers has yet to score a goal this postseason he is still one of the Jets’ most talented players and is coming off of a 29-goal performance in the regular season.

Ehlers does not get as much attention as some of the other Jets’ young stars, but his resume to this point in his career is impressive having already put a pair of 25-goal seasons on the board before his 22nd birthday. Getting him back in the lineup and getting some offense out of him would be a pretty big boost for a Jets offense that has gone cold the past few games.

MORE:
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Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• 
NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Nikolaj Ehlers will not play for Jets in Game 3

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Some big lineup news for the Winnipeg Jets heading into Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday night as they will be without forward Nikolaj Ehlers.

Ehlers did not take part in warmups while rookie forward Jack Roslovic will draw into the lineup.

Brandon Tanev skated in Ehlers’ place on the second line next to Paul Stastny and Patrik Laine.

The 21-year-old Ehlers is one of the Jets’ core players and is coming off another strong regular season performance that saw him score 29 goals in 82 games. That success has not continued in the playoffs, however, as he has yet to score a goal in 13 postseason games. This will be the second game he has missed this postseason. According to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun it is not a healthy scratch and Ehlers is dealing with some sort of undisclosed ailment.

Tanev, meanwhile, has been surprisingly productive in the playoffs and enters Game 3 with four goals and two points. In 61 regular season games he had just eight goals and 10 assists.

On the Vegas side, the Golden Knights will once again be without David Perron who will miss his second consecutive game. Tomas Tatar, fresh off of his strong Game 2 performance that saw him score his first goal of the playoffs, will once again play in his spot. Backup goalie Malcolm Subban was also not on the ice for warmups and will be replaced by Maxime Legace.

MORE:
• 
Conference Finals schedule, TV info
• 
NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Golden Knights vs. Jets: Three questions facing each team

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Golden Knights

1. Can Marc-Andre Fleury keep this up? After posting a .981 even strength save percentage in the first round, Fleury was a measly .941 against the San Jose Sharks, boosting by a pair of shutouts in Games 1 and 6. The Los Angeles Kings and Sharks did a good job of getting pucks through to Fleury, but the Golden Knights’ shot suppression improved and they’ve allowed an average of 23.9 shots at 5-on-5.

2. Can their even strength scoring improve if Fleury falters? When you have Fleury playing like he has, you can rely on those tight, low-scoring games to get you by in the postseason. But the Winnipeg Jets bring a ferocious offense into the conference finals. Tied for the most goals per game in the playoffs (3.58), it will take another strong defensive play for Vegas to slow the Jets’ offense. The Golden Knights have only averaged 2.9 goals per game through 10 games with 19 of their 29 goals coming at even strength. It’s easy to fall behind against Winnipeg, and they can’t rely on Fleury posting obscene numbers every night.

3. Will Vegas be able to prevent the Jets getting to the net? Two images tell the story. The first is how unsuccessful the Sharks were at getting in close on Fleury:

Now we have what the Jets did against the Predators:

(Via NaturalStat Trick)

San Jose managed just four even strength goals around the net while Winnipeg basically bought real estate in front of Pekka Rinna. There are enough big bodies on the Jets roster that they’ll be able to create and find space in and around Fleury’s net. That could cause Vegas plenty of trouble.

Jets

1. How effective will Mark Scheifele be against William Karlsson? “Wild Bill” had a year that could have ended with a seat at the Selke Trophy party, but he was not named one of the finalists. His 43 regular season goals earned him some love, but his two-way game was certainly overlooked. He’ll likely have the big challenge of slowing Scheifele, who leads all players with 11 goals.

2. Will the penalty kill step up? Fortunately for the Jets’ shorthanded unit, Vegas’ power play has only been okay through two rounds, clicking at 17.5 percent. But Winnipeg’s penalty kill hasn’t been much to write home about with a 74.2 percent success rate. The Golden Knights are already showing a need to produce on power play scoring with 7 of their 29 goals coming with the extra man. Averaging only 2.9 goals per game, if Vegas can’t get their power play going, that will cause them plenty of issues in this series.

3. Can depth carry them through? Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Paul Stastny led the Jets offensively in the second round, but contributions also came through from Brandon Tanev (three goals), Kyle Connor (six points) and Nikolaj Ehlers (four assists), among others. Ten different forwards recorded a point and seven scored a goal against the Predators. Vegas may not have enough to stop the waves coming over the boards that Paul Maurice has at his disposal. Also keep in mind that Patrik Laine has one goal in his last 10 games. He’s due for a breakthrough.

MORE:
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Conference Finals schedule, TV info
NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

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Sean Leahy is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Predators’ Fiala notches winner in double overtime to even series with Jets

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Ryan Johansen called Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round between his Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets a must-win.

A little early for the distinction? Perhaps. But the thought of heading back to Winnipeg — and into the Whiteout — down 2-0 had to be a daunting thought.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

In a game defined by the resiliency of both teams, it was the Predators who outlasted the Jets as Kevin Fiala scored on a deke past Connor Hellebuyck on a 2-on-1 rush at 5:45 of double overtime even the best-of-7 series 1-1.

Simply put, it was a massive goal, a massive win and maybe a little redemption after a dominant performance in Game 1 left the Predators wanting in Friday’s 4-1 loss.

The majority of the 25:45 of free hockey that was played was a lesson in how manic the game of hockey can be. Chances, near-misses, desperate saves — all contained in some of the most exciting hockey thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The game arrived in overtime after a frantic battle between two determined teams in regulation.

If Game 1 didn’t live up to the hype after a lopsided game one way resulted in an unlikely win in the other direction, Game 2 certainly made up for it.

Mark Scheifele‘s goal with 1:05 remaining in the third period, with Winnipeg’s net vacant, capped it off and ensured the hype train would keep chugging along.

Prior to that, Johansen scored his second goal of the night to give the Predators a 4-3 lead with 14 minutes and change remaining in the game.

His first came two periods earlier, just 27 seconds into the game to give the Preds a quick 1-0 lead. The lead wouldn’t hold and the Jets scored twice in 29 seconds before the period was through, including Scheifele’s first of the game.

Nashville rallied in the second period, scoring twice to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Brandon Tanev tied the game at 5:11 of the third, only to watch from the bench as the Johansen scored a beauty 34 seconds later to retake the lead, one that would last until Scheifele’s crucial equalizer at 18:55.

Pekka Rinne made 46 saves when it was all said and done, just 48 hours after he was removed from Game 1 following a poor outing.

Game 3 of the series shifts to Winnipeg on Tuesday night


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Jets chase Dubnyk, eliminate Wild in Game 5

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Friday’s Game 5 against the Winnipeg Jets was do-or-die for the Minnesota Wild. It turned out someone may have forgotten to tell the Wild.

Despite not having Josh Morrissey, Dmitry Kulikov, Toby Enstrom, Mathieu Perreault and Nikolaj Ehlers in Game 5, the Jets roared out to a 4-0 start through 20 minutes, chasing Devan Dubnyk, en route to a 5-0 win to advance to the second round.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Dubnyk lasted just 11:59, as he allowed four goals on 10 shots and was replaced by Alex Stalock.

Jacob Trouba started the party in Winnipeg scoring just 31 seconds into the game:

Bryan Little, Brandon Tanev and Joel Armia also found the back of the net for the Jets. Mark Scheifele added a power-play tally early in the third frame to extend their lead to 5-0.

The Wild were better in the second period, but they still couldn’t figure out Connor Hellebuyck, who ended up making 30 saves for his second straight shutout.

This is the third year in a row that Minnesota has been bounced in the opening round. In 2016, they were eliminated in six games by the Dallas Stars and last year they watched St. Louis take them down in five.

Even though they finished the year with over a 100 points, it’s another disappointing end for Bruce Boudreau’s squad. It’s tough to envision them making major changes to the roster because Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are under contract for six more years. It’ll be interesting to see what they can do to shake up this roster or their staff. General manager Chuck Fletcher has some work to do this summer.

As for the Jets, they move on to face the winner of the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche series. Winnipeg definitely looked explosive in Game 5, and they’ll need to keep rolling if they want to reach the Western Conference Final.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.