Winnipeg Dumps Islanders 4-2
WINNIPEG, MB – The frustrating Winnipeg Jets once again demonstrated how good they can be at the top of their game.
Thursday night at the Barclay’s Centre in Brooklyn, the Jets got a pair of goals from Bryan Little, a solid performance in net from Connor Hellebuyck and perhaps their best second period of the season as the visitors beat the New York Islanders 4-2 and put a halt to a four game losing streak (0-3-1).
And they did it after a crazy few days of travel and weather that resulted in the postponement of Tuesday night’s game in New Jersey to March 28.
The Jets are now 31-33-7 on the season and with 11 games remaining, trail the final Wild Card team in the West, St. Louis by eight points but the Blues also have two games in hand (13 games remaining).
“It was just kind of a weird last couple of days for us,” said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. “Just the nature of the schedule and the nature of being thrown off our routine a little bit, I think if affected us for the first five minutes there. But we rebounded and got a big goal and I think played a strong game after that.”
“That first goal gave us some life, gave us some momentum. That settled the game down for us a little bit, I thought.
The Islanders opened the scoring on their first shot of the night when Adam Pelech tallied just 38 seconds into the game. But from that point forward, Hellebuyck was very good and the Jets took over.
Little scored his 19th of the year on a rebound off a blistering shot by Nic Ehlers at 9:22 as Ben Chiarot drew the second assist and then Little scored his 20th on a power play from Ehlers and Nik Petan at 18:35.
The Jets went to the break leading 2-1 and had taken control of the play.
In the second period, a period that has been devastating to the Jets all season, Winnipeg was in complete control. In fact, they not only outshot the Islanders 13-8 and outscored them 2-0, they had a Petan goal disallowed due to an off-side.
As it was, Mathieu Perreault scored at 3:24 from Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele to make it 3-1 and then Adam Lowry scored his 12th of the year from right in front as Joel Armia and Mark Stuart drew the assists. It was now 4-1 and the Jets just needed a sound third period to wrap this one up.
Granted, Anders Lee scored his 26th of the year for the Islanders at 1:02, but the Jets shut it down after that and won their 31st of the season.
“We got a couple of big saves on the (early) PK and that was really important for us,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “From that point on, other than one shift at the end of the first, straight through the second period we were on the puck very very well. We moved the puck through the neutral zone with really good speed and then we stayed on it in the offensive zone and we were able to roll four lines right through.”
The Islanders outshot the Jets 29-28, but Hellebuyck outdueled the Islanders Thomas Greiss. Dustin Byfuglien led the Jets in ice time with 27 minutes and 43 seconds of work. He had three shots and four hits as the Jets outhit the timid Islanders 34-20. Josh Morrissey, who had 25 minutes and 41 seconds of ice time, led the Jets with four blocked shots.
Little, who had two goals in 18 minutes and 21 seconds of ice time, led the Jets with four shots. Now that Little has 20, the Jets have five players with 20 goals this season – Patrik Laine has 33, Scheifele has 28, Ehlers has 22, Wheeler has 21 and Little has 20.
Winnipeg plays again on Sunday afternoon at MTS Iceplex against the Minnesota Wild. Game time is 4 p.m.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports