Playoff Performer of the Night | Paul Stastny
Paul Stastny posted a three-point night Thursday, which included the series-clinching goal in a 5-1 win that sent the Winnipeg Jets to the first Western Conference Final in franchise history.
Though he's been proving it all posteason, Paul Stastny unequivocally demonstrated why the Winnipeg Jets coveted the 32-year-old at the 2018 Trade Deadline in Thursday's Game 7.
Stastny posted a three-point night (2-1–3), which included the series-clinching goal in a 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators that sent the Jets to the first Western Conference Final in franchise history. Winnipeg will play host to the Vegas Golden Knights Saturday when the puck drops on Game 1 of their series at 7 p.m. ET.
"The first word would be 'hoped.' ... and 'are ecstatic about' would be (next)," Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice spoke of Stastny postgame. "He's produced big numbers and big plus-minus with two very young players on his wings, and played against good lines. His hockey sense is just off the charts."
Stastny was quick to return the praise to Maurice.
"I think [Maurice] does a good job relaying the message," Stastny commended his coach's demeanour. "He simplifies it all the time. After a loss, after a win, I've been impressed with the way he comes at us the next day.
The forward struck with his first goal of the night in the opening frame to give the Jets a two-goal cushion before P.K. Subban responded for the Predators on the power-play to end the period with a score of 2-1. It was the lone tally for Nashville as the Jets continued to pile on off the stick Mark Scheifele before Stastny picked up his second goal of the game and later an assist on Sheifele's empty-netter to seal the 5-1 win.
Stastny now has six goals as part of 14 points this Stanley Cup Playoffs – three of which stood as game-winning goals.
When the series is on the line, Stastny has an undeniable track record for being the difference-maker – he boasts an eight-point record (4-4–8) over four NHL postseason career Game 7s. With that in mind, Stastny spoke to his experience.
"I'm comfortable in these games," Stastny said quite simply postgame. "I'd rather have it on my stick because maybe some of the guys who are younger in this situation just get a little nervous... What happens in games like these, sometimes you try to move the puck too quick and then you think you have less time than you actually do. As you get later in your career, you've just got to enjoy these moments. You're going to have some guys that get nervous out there and that's fine. It's our job, older guys, veteran guys, to go out there and try to be loose and try to make everyone comfortable."
Like father like son?
When prompted about his dad, Peter – who famously scored the overtime game-winning goal for the Quebec Nordiques in the club's 1985 division final against the Montreal Canadiens – Paul tried to make light of his own accomplishment in comparison.
"It was probably different because it was a big rival and they kept losing to Montreal. And it might have been OT..." the younger Stastny said between laughs. "Not that I know my dad's goals, but I know that one - rebound off a draw," he said. "He still talks about winning that draw."
Whether Paul will be talking about his Game 7 heroics down the road remains to be seen, but Jets fans will surely reminisce on the moment for years to come.