Wild lose third-straight first round series against Jets

Five games, twenty-six goals. The Minnesota Wild scored nine, two more than the Vegas Golden Knights, who swept their series. The Winnipeg Jets scored thirteen against the Wild; winning their first ever playoff game and playoff series in the same round. The Wild fell for the third-straight year no further than the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year though, the Chicago Blackhawks failed to qualify, as did the St. Louis Blues. The Colorado Avalanche were set to go against the Nashville Predators.

The Winnipeg Jets are inexperienced in the playoffs and rather young throughout their lineup. But that hardly seems to matter anymore, as Patrick Laine found his groove and made a big presence only two years into his NHL career. Elsewhere, Mitch Marner and Austin Matthews (each two years new to the league) have helped extend the Toronto Maple Leaf’s chances to a game seven Wednesday, Apr. 25 in Boston against the Bruins. On the Bruins, Charlie McAvoy, also a second year, is a commendable pillar of the Boston defense. In the Pittsburg Penguin’s second-round clinching win over the Philadelphia Flyers, second-year Jake Guentzel scored four in a row.

The Wild had a number of young players too, but arguable their best overall were both injured for most if not all of the series. Ryan Suter has a fractured ankle, Zach Parise a fractured sternum. Parise played in the first three games, losing the opening two in Winnipeg. In the third game, here in Minnesota, he scored his third goal in as many games. But it wasn’t enough. The Jets were also bigger and were simply too able to muscle the Wild out of the way.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk put his longed-for skills on full display during the series. Enough he posted a 3.39 goals against average and a .908 save percentage, he didn’t show signs of breaking down until the fifth game. In the Wild’s elimination Dubnyk was pulled and the Jets won with five unanswered goals.

Following the post-season elimination, Craig Leipold let go Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher. He promised “this is not a rebuild,” but hopes fresh eyes and a new perspective will finally bring the Stanley Cup to Minnesota

The second round of the playoffs will see the Vegas Golden Knights (4-0 in the first round) against the San Jose Sharks, also 4-0.

The Nashville Predators (4-2) will faceoff against the Winnipeg Jets (4-1).

The Tampa Lightning (4-1) will be matched against the winner of game seven between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night.

The Pittsburg Penguins (4-2) will look to eliminate the Washington Capitols (4-2) for the third year in a row in the second roun on their way to a hopeful three-peat Stanely Cup Championship performance.