Hellebuyck, Jets steal 4-3 OT victory over Nashville for fourth straight win

The Winnipeg Jets have clinched a top-three spot in the Central Division after earning a 4-3 overtime win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Kyle Connor’s 10th game-winning goal this season came 1:52 into overtime. He took a great pass from Mark Scheifele on a 2-on-1 break and shot it past Predators goalie Juuse Saros.

The victory is Winnipeg’s 23rd road victory, establishing a new franchise record.

Connor Hellebuyck made 45 saves in the win, while the Jets only mustered 22 shots on goal.

Nashville opened the scoring 4:05 into the first period when Tommy Novak capitalized on a neutral zone turnover and beat Hellebuyck for his 16th goal of the season.

However, the Jets responded just under three minutes later when Gabe Vilardi scored a highlight reel power-play goal.  Vilardi took a Scheifele feed on his backhand before going between his legs in tight and roofing it top shelf above a surprised Saros.

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The goal was Vilardi’s team-leading eighth power play goal and 20th of the season – in just 43 games.

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Minutes later, Winnipeg took a lead. Tyler Toffoli helped create a turnover at the offensive zone and gave Scheifele a pass to lead him into open ice.  Scheifele made no mistake, scoring his 24th goal of the season.

Winnipeg wasn’t done there, either.

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The Jets made it three goals in a span of 5:55 when Morgan Barron found a streaking Dylan DeMelo, who ripped a shot past Saros from the slot.  It was DeMelo’s third goal this season.

The ice was slanted towards Winnipeg’s defensive end through the second period, but no goals were scored in large part due to Hellebuyck’s consistency in goal and a little help from Neal Pionk, who pulled a loose puck out of harm’s way.

Nashville continued to press in the third period, and finally broke through 7:34 into the final frame.

Preds captain Roman Josi’s centreing attempt deflected into the air and Spencer Stastney hit it into the net out of mid-air to make it 3-2.

Just two minutes later, another neutral zone turnover led to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-tying goal with so much time and space to walk through the slot and beat Hellebuyck blocker side.

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Connor’s OT winner was his 32nd goal of the season. For the moment, the Jets move into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche for 2nd in the Central Division, but hold the tiebreaker.

The Avalanche are in action against the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night.

Nashville clinches a playoff spot with the point, but can finish no higher than a wildcard spot after the loss.

Winnipeg will continue its road trip through the division on Thursday against the Dallas Stars. The pregame show will begin at 5 p.m. with puck drop just after 7 p.m. on 680 CJOB.

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