Winnipeg Jets score late to knock off Chicago 2-1, set franchise record with 8th straight win

The Winnipeg Jets keep finding a way.

Sluggish and disconnected for much of the night, the Jets scored a pair of late goals to knock off the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 Thursday night to set a franchise record with an eighth consecutive victory in front of a sellout crowd of 15,225.

The Jets also extended their point streak record to 14 games and they’ve now gone 31 straight contests allowing three goals or fewer. They’ve also now went 11 in a row allowing two goals or less.

After Gabriel Vilardi tied the game only minutes earlier, Nikolaj Ehlers scored with just 65 seconds remaining to keep all the streaks intact.

“We didn’t like the way we played in the second period,” Ehlers said. “Frustrations kicked in and we talked about, and the way we played in the third, I mean, we didn’t let them breathe. It was bound to go in.”

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The Jets were outshot 10-6 in the middle frame, but finally found their legs in the third period where the shots were 12-5 in their favour.

“We had a good first,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “We had a terrible second. We just got a little frustrated, got off our game. We rebounded really well in the third period, so Chicago played a great game.

“Don’t look at their roster. Don’t look at their standings, it’s a bad team. It’s a good team. They played hard. They made it very hard for us tonight.”

With eight straight victories, the Jets topped their franchise record that was originally set back in 2017.

“It’s obviously a cool feat that this group is able to accomplish,” said Josh Morrissey who was arguably their best player on the ice. “But at the same time, it really doesn’t really mean anything. We’re focused on tomorrow on what we need to do to get ready for Saturday’s game.”

For the second straight game Mark Scheifele couldn’t finish the contest. He pulled up on a back check early in the second period and went straight to the dressing room and didn’t return due to a lower-body injury.

“He’s going to be reevaluated to see where he stands tomorrow,” said Bowness.

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Neither side could find the back of the net in the opening 20 minutes but the Jets had the bulk of the chances, the best coming off the stick of Vilardi after he was sprung in alone but shot the puck into the glove of Petr Mrazek.

Winnipeg carried a 10-6 edge in shots on goal into the second but the middle frame was not one to remember for the Jets, who lost Scheifele to injury in the early going.

Moments later, Chicago opened the scoring when Connor Murphy’s wrist shot from the point beat Laurent Brossoit through a screen at the 4:19 mark.

Winnipeg went over 12 minutes without a shot in the period as Chicago pressed for more but the Jets tried to turn the tide back in the favour in the later minutes.

Each side also failed on a pair of power plays in the second as the visitors took the 1-0 lead into the third.

It stayed that way for most of the final period as Winnipeg tried to mount a charge, but Mrazek kept getting in the way, making several great saves to keep his team in front.

But the dam finally burst with 3:29 to go when Adam Lowry got the puck in the corner in Chicago’s end and found Vilardi alone in front, who buried it past Mrazek to tie the game and electrify the sellout crowd.

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It got even louder with just over a minute left when Ehlers was sprung into the Chicago zone and buried a low wrister past Mrazek to put the Jets in front with a little over a minute remaining.

Brossoit turned aside 20 shots as he improved to 5-1 in his last six starts. Mrazek made 26 saves in defeat.

Winnipeg will go for a ninth straight win Saturday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers. The game starts just after 6 p.m. with pregame coverage on 680 CJOB starting at 4 p.m.

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