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Winnipeg Jets centre Paul Stastny is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators during the second period of Game 1 in Nashville, Tenn., on April 27, 2018.Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press

Paul Stastny’s hockey heritage is deep.

His father, Peter, is a Hall of Famer who was smuggled out of the former Czechoslovakia with help from the Quebec Nordiques.

His uncles, Anton and Marian, also escaped from behind the Iron Curtain. In the early 1980s, when all of them played in Quebec City, it was only the third time three brothers suited up at the same time for one NHL team.

Still, there was never any pressure on Paul to do the same as they did. Perhaps it is something that needed not to be said.

“Hockey was never forced on me, but I was around it all the time,” Stastny says. “As a kid, you want to follow your parents. They are your shining example.”

He is 32 and a centre for the Winnipeg Jets. It is his 12th NHL season and, for the moment, he could not be in a better place.

The Jets have an opportunity on Monday night to clinch their second-round playoff series over the Nashville Predators. Game 6 is at Bell MTS Place, a powderkeg ready to explode.

The Jets have never advanced past the second round in an NHL history that dates back to 1979. They were the champions of the World Hockey Association three times before that, but have had only a smattering of success since.

For 15 years, Winnipeg had no team. There was much heartbreak when the Jets left for Phoenix in 1997, and joy in 2011 when the Thrashers relocated from Atlanta to Manitoba.

That joy now borders on delirium.

“These things build and are going to continue building,” Blake Wheeler, the Jets captain, said on Sunday. “It is not our celebration, it is for the people in Winnipeg.

“They should be enjoying it.”

Stastny was acquired by the Jets from St. Louis for a prospect and the Blues’ first-round pick in this summer’s NHL draft. They sought him for his veteran presence on a team without much postseason experience.

This is the seventh time one of Statsny’s teams has reached the playoffs, and he is making the most of it. He scored the first goal in Winnipeg’s 6-2 victory over the Predators on Saturday night, and has four goals and 11 points in 10 games since the regular season ended.

The Jets were in Dallas to play the Stars when Stastny’s name came up a few days before the trade deadline.

Winnipeg’s coach, Paul Maurice, inquired about him with Wheeler. The two are friends and played against one another numerous times over 10 years.

“Blake told me, ‘This guy is way better than you think,’ ” Maurice says. “He was right on all counts.”

Wheeler recalls the conversation.

“I was excited when Paul’s name came up,” he says. “I knew how good he is. Since he got here, everyone has been blown away.”

Stastny has played more than 800 NHL games. He recognized that Winnipeg had a promising team. The Jets set a franchise record with 52 victories and 114 points. The only team with more was the Predators, who had 117.

“Playing against these guys, I knew how tough they are,” Stastny says. “I looked at the standings and thought about what might happen with them. You never know how many chances [to win a Stanley Cup] you are going to have.

“That is why I did it. There were certain things I envisioned, and what has happened is everything I envisioned and more. The longer you are around, the more you realize how tough it is.”

Playing on the second line between Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, Stastny had four goals and nine assists in 19 regular-season games after joining the Jets. He has had a calming presence through the playoff run that has consumed Winnipeg’s die-hard faithful. The Jets dispatched Minnesota in five games, and are on the brink of eliminating a team many thought was destined to reach the Stanley Cup final.

“This group was built for a game like the one that is coming up,” Nashville coach Paul Laviolette says. “I have a tremendous confidence. I believe in them. The guys understand everything.

“Winnipeg is a very good team. We are just giving them way too many great chances.”

Stastny was born in Quebec City when his dad and uncles played for the Nordiques. He spent his early years in Quebec and New Jersey following his dad’s career. The family settled in St. Louis, where Peter finished as a player and became a scout for the Blues. He was the first rookie in NHL history to score more than 100 points in a season, and the first European in the league to surpass 1,000 in his career.

Peter, one of the finest players to play in the NHL with 1,239 points in 977 games, and seven seasons with more than 100 points, never won a Stanley Cup.

“I talk to him when I need to,” Stastny says. “He knows what this is like. At times, what he tells me is tough to hear.

“He sees part of himself in me. He knows when I am up or down. As I got older, I realized how lucky I am.”

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