With a 3-2 comeback victory last night, the Winnipeg Jets franchise won their first ever playoff game. While the media were happy to predict a comfortable Jets win in this series, there were question marks over the Jets because of their inexperience and their lack of playoff success.
The result undoubtedly removed those question marks and showed that this team means business in the postseason.
Laine scores huge goal
One of the main issues players can have is translating their regular season form to the postseason. Patrik Laine netted over 40 goals this season for the Jets - but can he translate that to the playoffs?
Early in the game, you could tell that Laine was desperate to make his mark on the game. He kept trying difficult shots that rarely troubled Devan Dubnyk in the Minnesota net. But then his big moment came.
With the Jets down 2-1 in the third period, Laine let go a wicked shot into the top corner to put Winnipeg back into the game. The crowd had been quietened after two early third period goals for the Wild - but the Finn turned the game on its head with a huge goal.
Who will bet against Laine being the difference maker in this series?
Mark Scheifele netted the opening goal of the game in the second period and all seemed to go to plan for the Jets. But the sting came in the third period when they went 2-1 down. The team looked shell-shocked; the crowd lost their buzz and it could have been easy for the Jets to give up.
But they did not.
Coming back from 2-1 down in the third period to win 3-2 is no mean feat - especially for a Winnipeg team with a severe lack of playoff experience.
In fact, the Jets could very easily have sulked because they battered Dubnyk's goal the full game. The goalie made 37 saves, his opposite number Connor Hellebuyck made just 18. Minnesota had a gameplan that nearly worked perfectly, they tried to nullify the Jets offense while relying on their goalie to pick up the slack. They were then clinical with their own chances - the perfect way to steal a game on the road.
Winnipeg deserves great credit for turning this game around.
The series from now
After last night’s big win, the Jets can take confidence in knowing they are good enough to go far in the postseason. Minnesota are no pushover and Winnipeg overcame their great defensive play - if they can win game two then there is a real chance that this series could end in a sweep.
In this series game one would always be important and if the Jets lost last nights game, they would no doubt have been feeling huge pressure heading into game two. This is a franchise that has never won a playoff game before - whether in Atlanta or Winnipeg - so getting that monkey off their backs was huge.
Winnipeg also gave so many playoff debuts last night to players like Laine, Scheifele, Hellebuyck and Ehlers. While we all know they have quality - these players will have been eager to prove that they could play playoff hockey. These players now will have the confidence to play their game for the rest of the series.
It looks like Winnipeg has a clear path to round two.
Will Winnipeg go through to round two? Let us know in the comments section below