WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Connor Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots for his fourth shutout of the season and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Nashville Predators 2-0 on Saturday night.
Defenseman Neal Pionk and forward Mark Scheifele scored to help the Jets improve to 44-32-3 in a desperate race for the final wild-card playoff berth in the Western Conference.
“Bucky, he’s a guy that works extremely hard,” Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers said. “He works hard for this team. He plays hard. He’s a pretty damn good goalie and we’re extremely lucky to have him. ”
Jusse Soros made 36 saves for Nashville.
“Saros kept them in it all game,” Scheifele said. “It easily could have been a blowout. He played amazing, so kudos to him. He’s a fantastic goaltender. But at the end of the day, it was a big win for this team.”
The Predators dropped to 40-31-8 - three points behind the Jets in the standings.
“This group is resilient,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “We always respond. It’s taking the lessons out of this game. This didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, but we’re still hunting, we’re still going to put pressure on this team.
“There are certain areas that we need to be better in. We will be better in. We always respond the right way. We need to rest up, rejuvenate tomorrow and be ready for Monday.”
Pionk gave Winnipeg a 2-0 lead 1:36 into the third period. The defenseman took a pass from forward Nikolaj Ehlers at the top of the faceoff circle and fired the puck past Saros.
The Jets stormed Nashville in the second period, outshooting the Predators 20-5, but only managed one goal. They finally broke through with 4:64 left in the period on Scheifele’s 40th of the season.
Predators: At Calgary on Monday night.
Jets: Host San Jose on Monday night in regular-season home finale.
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