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Connor scores in OT, Jets beat playoff-bound Predators 4-3

The Winnipeg Jets celebrate after defeating the Nashville Predators in overtime in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) The Winnipeg Jets celebrate after defeating the Nashville Predators in overtime in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Kyle Connor scored at 1:52 of overtime to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists, Gabriel Vilardi and Dylan DeMelo also scored and Connor Hellebuyck made a season-high 45 saves for Winnipeg, winners of four straight.

"I think we start the bus and get out of here as fast as we can," DeMelo said. "Without (Hellebuyck), we don't win the game. That's why he's the best goalie in the league and we're lucky to have him."

Tommy Novak, Spencer Stastney and Ryan O'Reilly scored and Juuse Saros made 18 saves for Nashville, losers of five of seven. Kiefer Sherwood and Roman Josi each had two assists.

With the overtime loser point, the Predators clinched a playoff spot. After missing the playoffs last season, the Predators have reached the post-season in nine of the last 10 seasons.

"Obviously, making the playoffs is a huge accomplishment," O'Reilly said. "I think we're proud as a group. Guys worked hard for this. Of course, it would have been nice to win that one, but I thought we showed great resilience tonight."

In overtime, Connor and Scheifele came in on Saros on a 2-on-1, with Connor beating the goaltender with a wrist shot from the left side after a feed from Scheifele.

"Obviously, (Connor) is a great shooter, you want to get the puck on his stick," Scheifele said. "So, I just tried to time the pass right and obviously great shot by him."

After falling behind by a goal early, the Jets rallied for three goals in the first. The three goals were scored on their first five shots of the game.

"We played well in the first and we played really well after they tied it up," Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. "In between that wasn't our best hockey for sure. We've played better than that and lost, so we'll take that."

Nashville trailed by two goals entering the third, but Stastney and O'Reilly scored 2:07 apart near the midpoint of the period to pull the Predators even.

Novak scored the game's first goal at 4:05 of the opening period, but Vilardi tied it on the power play at 6:51.

Scheifele found Vilardi all alone just outside the Nashville crease, where he put the stick between his legs before roofing a shot just underneath the crossbar on Saros' glove side.

Scheifele then scored on a backhand at 8:19 of the first and DeMelo followed with 7:14 remaining.

O'Reilly tied it at 9:41 of the third with a wrist shot from the slot that beat Hellebuyck on the stick side.

"It was a heck of a shot," Nashville coach Andrew Brunette said. "He just seems to relish … he's almost calmer when things get chaotic. He's been around. He's had some big moments, won some big games, won the ultimate thing. He's been unbelievable for our group all year."

UP NEXT

Jets: Visit the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Predators: Visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

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