Captain Blake Wheeler scored a short-handed goal with 45 seconds left in regulation to lift the Winnipeg Jets to their seventh consecutive victory with a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
With Jets forward Joel Armia in the penalty box for tripping, centre Mark Scheifele carried the puck up the centre of the ice, waited for Wheeler to get near the net and then sent him a pass he used for a low backhand shot past goalie Pekka Rinne. It was Wheeler’s 26th goal of the year.
Winnipeg was already eliminated from the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons since relocating from Atlanta, but the seven-game win streak was a record for the Jets/Thrashers franchise.
Nashville has 94 points and will hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Calgary also has 94 points and was playing San Jose later in the night, but the Flames hold the tie-breaker over the Predators and get the first wild-card berth.
Defenceman Ryan Ellis scored a short-handed goal for Nashville in the second period.
Winnipeg forward Kyle Connor, called up from the AHL Manitoba Moose April 3, was playing his first NHL game since Nov. 29 and tied it 1-1 midway through the third period.
Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves for the Jets (40-35-7). Rinne had 34 stops for the Nashville (41-29-12).
Winnipeg was 10-2-1 in its last 13 games.
Winnipeg outshot the visitors 14-7 in the scoreless first period, with Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers leading both teams with four shots.
Nashville had a two-man advantage for 1:12 midway through the second after penalties to Chris Thorburn and Dustin Byfuglien, but Hellebuyck made a couple good saves and his teammates blocked some shots.
Back from missing one game with an injury, Ellis took advantage of a Bryan Little turnover to score his 16th goal of the season at 11:31 of the second. The unassisted marker came with teammate Viktor Arvidsson in the penalty box for hooking.
With under five minutes left in the second, Nashville unsuccessfully used a coaches challenge on a no-goal by Arvidsson.
The Predators flipped the tables in shots on goals, ending the middle frame ahead 28-20.
A Nashville turnover by Anthony Biletto at centre ice gave Adam Lowry the puck and he sent a pass to Connor for his second goal of the season at 10:47.
Scheifele finished as Winnipeg’s leading scorer with 82 points in 79 games, including 32 goals. Both were a career high for the four-year player.
Wheeler ended on a season-high, eight-game point streak with four goals and seven assists.
Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen each finished with 61 points, with Johansen playing all 82 games and Arvidsson 80.Report Typo/Error