Los Angeles (AFP) – Winnipeg scored four times in the first 12 minutes of the contest as the Jets clinched their first playoff series win in franchise history with a 5-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
Jacob Trouba, Bryan Little, Brandon Tanev and Joel Armia scored first period goals to chase Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk as the Jets won the first round best of seven series four games to one.
The four goals on their first 10 shots sent the white-clad crowd of 15,300 at the Bell MTS Place arena into a frenzy. A similar size group of fans stood outside on the streets of Winnipeg watching the game on giant TV screens.
The party then kicked into high gear after the final buzzer sounded with the Winnipeg police tweeting some words of advice and encouraging people to have fun.
“Seems a #WPGWhiteout has hit Portage & Main. Motorists may wish to steer clear for a bit – but friendly @NHLJets fans welcome. We’ve shut down the intersection for a series clinching celebration. We’ll let you know when it’s open again. This is your night #Winnipeg,” the police tweeted.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said in a strange way it feels like the city’s passion for the sport has taken precedence over the team’s play on the ice.
“They are not long suffering fans,” he said. “We (coaches) have a TV in our room and we see the crowds in the stands and on the streets and they love the game of hockey. It is almost like we are secondary to what is going on in the city.”
Winnipeg’s previous playoff appearance was a sweep by the Anaheim Ducks in 2015.
The franchise moved to the Manitoba city from Atlanta in 2011. The Thrashers started in the league 1999-2000, with their only playoff series ending in four straight losses to the New York Rangers seven seasons later.
The last time any Winnipeg team won a NHL series was 31 years ago when the original Jets’ franchise did it before relocating to Arizona in 1996.
Trouba scored 31 seconds into Friday’s game and in a blink of an eye Little, Tanev and Armia scored to make it 4-0.
Dubnyk was replaced by Alex Stalock who stopped 15 shots but gave up a third period goal to Jets forward Mark Scheifele. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 30 shots for the shutout.
The Wild were making their sixth straight appearance in the postseason. They got as far as the second round in 2014 and 2015, when Chicago eliminated them both times.