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The Winnipeg Jets edged closer to their first appearance in an NHL conference final on Saturday night with a 6-2 victory over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

The Jets won for the second time on their opponent’s home ice in the best-of-seven series and are on the brink of clinching it on Monday night. Game 6 will be played before their rabid fans at Bell MTS Place, where they have compiled the best home record of any team in the league.

A massive whiteout pep rally is sure to precede the contest at the rink near the intersection of Portage and Main. The Jets have never gotten past the second round of the playoffs. Historically speaking, the team that takes a 3-2 lead has gone on to win the series 79 per cent of the time.

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Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault (85) celebrates after scoring past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena.Christopher Hanewinckel/Reuters

Kyle Connor scored twice for the Jets in his first multi-goal postseason game, and added an assist. The Jets chased Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne with 13:37 remaining when they scored for the sixth time on 26 shots.

After a scoreless first period, the Jets took charge with a flurry of goals in the second. Paul Stastny broke the 0-0 deadlock with 13:36 remaining when a shot by Patrik Laine defected off him into the net.

Yannick Weber tied it with a wrist shot that fluttered over Connor Hellebuyck’s shoulder three and a half minutes later, but then Winnipeg opened a 4-1 lead by scoring three goals in a span of less than five minutes.

Connor put them up for good by flipping a puck over Rinne from the left side with 7:30 left. Dustin Byfuglien found the net less than two minutes later after a nice feed from Brandon Tanev. Then Connor scored again, his first multi-goal postseason game, with 2:59 remaining.

Nashville pulled within 4-2 with a short-handed goal 58 seconds later on a two-on-one by Ryan Johansen. Winnipeg net-minder Connor Hellebuyck thought he had it stopped but the centre’s shot from the right side trickled past him.

Any suspense toward the outcome was dashed when Mark Scheifele scored his ninth goal in 10 playoff games only 28 seconds after the second intermission. Connor set it up, first skating around Johansen before finding Scheifele in front of Rinne. Mathieu Perreault, returning from an injury that had kept him out of all but one postseason game, closed out the scoring. Rinne then made his exit as the Predators stunned crowd sat in near silence.

Nashville finished the regular season with 117 points, the most accrued by any team in the regular season. Winnipeg was next with 114.

The Predators had hoped to put pressure on the Jets by forcing them to win twice in a row. Now they have to do exactly that themselves, and once at the smallest and loudest arena in the league.

Incensed by a suggestion from Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler that the Predators pipe in noise to make their arena louder, their fans tried from the start to outdo their whiteout-loving counterparts in Winnipeg. Screaming, they held up home-made signs. “We Are Real Fans. We Make Real Noise,” one read.

Before the game, they took swings with a sledgehammer at a junked jet parked outside the arena’s front door. They cheered as the team mascot rappelled down from the rafters, and roared when Lady Antebellum came out to sing the Star Spangled Banner.

In Game 2, the honours belonged to Carrie Underwood, the country superstar whose husband, Mike Fisher, plays centre for Nashville. Underwood was in the building, watching from a luxury box and rooting for her husband, to no avail.

At the beginning, the game was more like Thursday’s tightly played contest than the freewheeling affairs that preceded it. The teams had combined for 25 goals in the first three games before the Predators evened the series by winning a Game 4 squeaker, 2-1.

Laine scored Winnipeg’s lone goal with 50 seconds remaining in that one and Nashville survived a flurry of shots before the buzzer. It was the first goal in six playoff games for the Finnish winger who led the team with 44 goals and 70 points in the regular season.

The Predators were able to muster only two shots on net in the first 10 minutes, including one point-blank miss by Kyle Turris. As the period continued, they began penetrating the Jets’ defence and getting — but flubbing — more chances. With three minutes left in the period, Hellebuyck was forced to make a difficult save on Filip Forsberg. By intermission, they had outshot the Jets 11-7, but had been unable to crack the scoreboard.

The Predators had won 12 of their last 16 playoff games at Bridgestone Arena but got ambushed on their home turf. Winnipeg has not lost back-to-back games on the road since March 29, and lost back-to-back only three times all season.

Now they are back at home, and have two chances to play for a spot in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time. The Predators’ only chance is to win in the most hostile environment in the NHL, and then again on Thursday at their rink off Broadway surrounded by country music bars.

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said earlier Saturday that he was concerned that his team, which is relatively inexperienced in postseason, might get worn down playing seven games.

“Games are a lot more intense,” Maurice said. “The greater cost goes beyond being physical. It is mental and emotional. You can’t let losses drag you down.”

It’s not his team, but the Predators that find themselves in that position.

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