Laine shines in the lights of Broadway
On the same day the NHL announced the dates of next season’s visit to his homeland of Finland, Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine celebrated by scoring his first hat trick of this season, and the fourth of his career, in a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Laine’s outburst extended his franchise record tying points streak to nine games, including 13 goals and six assists during that stretch. The 19 year old right winger tied his rookie goal total of 36 when he snapped a scoreless tie with just under a minute remaining in the first period. Laine then added his career best 37th midway through the second period before finishing off his big night with only his second empty net goal of the season.
The 6-5, 206 pound native of Tampere has scored nine times in his last five games to pull to within just two goals of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead. Earlier in the day the league confirmed the dates of November 1st and 2nd for the Jets and Florida’s two game series next season in Helsinki.
Somewhat lost in the wake of Laine’s big night was the performance of Steve Mason. The veteran goalie made 31 saves in his first NHL start since January 9th, posting his first shutout of this season, and the 34th of his career.
And there is concern over the status of Mark Scheifele who had to leave the game late in the second period after colliding with line mate Blake Wheeler in the first. The team is waiting for further evaluation on Scheifele’s upper body injury, but say it’s not related to the one that sidelined him for sixteen games earlier in the season.
The second straight victory to begin a six game road trip also helped the Jets achieve the 40 win mark for the third time in the seven seasons since the franchise relocated from Atlanta. Winnipeg (40-17-9) can move to within two victories of he all time mark of 43 when they play Thursday Night in New Jersey.