March 14, 2018 5:29 am
Updated: March 14, 2018 5:51 am

Jets blitzed early by Nashville in road trip finale

Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson (33), of Sweden, tries to deflect the puck against Winnipeg Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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This one was over early. The Nashville Predators struck for three goals in the opening 8:49 of the first period and went on to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 Tuesday Night in the fourth meeting of the season between the top two teams in the NHL Central Division. It was Nashville’s third win versus Winnipeg and stretched the Predators lead in the Division to eight points, with a game in hand.

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Kevin Fiala opened the scoring at 2:48, and Austin Watson and Viktor Arvidsson added shorthanded goals just 34 seconds apart on starter Michael Hutchinson who had already faced 15 shots before the game was even nine minutes old. During the intermission the Jets announced that Hutchinson would not be returning because of an upper body injury. Head Coach Paul Maurice confirmed after the game that Hutchinson said  “he wasn’t feeling right” and was replaced by Connor Hellebuyck who stopped all 30 shots he faced in relief. Hutchinson will be evaluated during the team’s day off and Maurice said it was too early to say whether a decision will be made to recall Eric Comrie from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

READ MORE: Mathieu Perreault: Grateful for care at St. Boniface Hospital

The Jets also played the game without Paul Statsny who, according to Maurice, tightened up during the warm up and was replaced at the last minute by Shawn Matthias who played his first game since January 12th. Kyle Connor scored Winnipeg’s only goal on an early third period powerplay. Patrik Laine drew an assist to extend his club record points streak to thirteen games. Laine has 16-8-24 during the streak which began on February 16th in a 6-1 win over Colorado.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets’ Patrik Laine once again recognized by NHL

The Jets went 3-2-1 on their longest road trip of the season and now have a finishing schedule that will see them play 8 of their last 12 games at home, beginning Thursday Night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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