Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal got right to the point.
“It couldn’t have gone any worse at the start for us, and it couldn’t have gone any better for them,” Staal said. “They got the momentum and ran with it, especially early.”
Jacob Trouba, Bryan Little, Brandon Tanev and Joel Armia scored in the first 11:59 to chase Minnesota goalie Devan Dubynk and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Wild 5-0 on Friday night to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history. Winnipeg will face the winner of the Nashville-Colorado series in the second round.
Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for his second shutout of the series, and Mark Scheifele added a goal in the third to help the Jets finish off the Wild in five games.
“I guess I did my job, right?” Hellebucyk said with a chuckle. “I didn’t let any in. … I thought the team was great in front of me. The guys’ details are fantastic. Any time you can get that many (goals) in the first period, that kind of sinks the other team, especially deep in a series like this. They definitely got this one early.”
The 30-year-old Little joined the Jets franchise in 2007-08 when it was based in Atlanta.
“Playing in Atlanta, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to experience playing on a team like this and playing in a city like this, where hockey is loved this much,” said Little, who tipped in a goal. “I just feel lucky to be a part of it.”
The white-clad crowd of 15,321 at Bell MTS Place stood and began cheering and waving white towels with just over two minutes remaining. A similar-size crowd was outside watching on giant screens at a “whiteout” street party.
“It’s a tough building. They’re a dangerous team. They get a quick one, and the building gets into it,” Dubnyk said. “A couple deflections, and you can see that’s how a game can kind of run away from you.”
Winnipeg’s previous post-season appearance was a sweep by Anaheim in 2015. The franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011. The Thrashers started in 1999-2000, with their only playoff series ending in four straight losses to the New York Rangers in 2007. The series came 31 years after the original Jets last won a series before the team moved to Arizona.
The Jets attacked the Wild quickly, scoring four goals on their first 10 shots.
Trouba scored 31 seconds in, and Little, Tanev and Armia followed quickly.
“Ultimately, the game was lost in the first period,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You have two periods of hockey left and stranger things have happened. For us it was more about trying to right the ship and get to our game. I think for stretches there we did a bit. We just couldn’t get the one to go in to get things sparked.”
Alex Stalock stopped 15 of the 16 shots in relief of Dubynk.
Scheifele scored his fourth goal of the series 32 seconds into the third with a one-timer on the power play.
NOTES: Humboldt Broncos player Matthieu Gomercic was in attendance for the game. He was given a standing ovation when introduced and shown on the scoreboard. … The Wild were making their sixth straight appearance in the postseason. They only got as far as the second round in 2014 and ’15, when Chicago knocked them out both years.