With a little help from their depth, and a strong second period, the Winnipeg Jets finished their longest homestand of the season on a high note as they picked up a second straight victory over the Calgary Flames.
After trailing early in the game, the Jets scored three – second period goals to knock off the Flames 4-1 on Thursday at Bell MTS Place.
The Jets completed the seven-game homestand with nine of a possible 14 points.
“Tonight it feels like everybody was in the right spot at the right time,” forward Mathieu Perreault said. “And if we weren’t, then Bucky (Connor Hellebuyck) was making the big saves. So, all in all, it was a great game.”
It was the third of four straight games against the Flames for the Jets.
Mason Appleton led the way with a pair of goals for his first career multi-goal game. He now has three on the season. Perreault chipped in with three assists.
The team’s top offensive players also contributed as Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele lit the lamp.
“You see a couple of the goals we scored tonight,” Adam Lowry said. “One’s going in the net and he scores right in the crease. And then Schifes (Scheifele) on the top of the crease on a tip. So, that’s kinda the offence that you are going to need consistently to win, on top of that transition game that we have.”
In their last two meetings, the Jets allowed the Flames to battle their way back into the game. But on Thursday, the Jets limited the Flames to just six shots on goal in the final period.
“I think over the three games, we’ve improved the most was our back pressure,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “And it cost us kinda in the first game, and caused us an awful lot of problems on our end of the ice, and our forwards did a really strong job of coming back.
“And then it allowed Kyle (Connor) to break that loose, so that was Kyle’s best game probably of the year, and it’s not goal based. It’s based on all the other things he did away from the puck.”
Blake Wheeler has faced criticism this week for his play at even strength. He only received 13 minutes of ice time in Tuesday’s victory, but after Maurice came to his defense a day earlier, Wheeler’s ice time was expanded to a little over 16 minutes.
The Jets captain still took a pair of minor penalties, and was on the ice for the Flames’ only goal, and he’s now been on the ice for 15 of the 21 goals the Jets have given up during 5-on-5 play this season.
It was another milestone victory for the Jets tender. Hellebuyck made 23 saves for his 153rd career victory, passing Ondrej Pavelec for most wins in franchise history by a goalie.
“It means a lot,” Hellebuyck said. “I care a lot about this organization. They’ve given me my shot, and I care a lot about the guys in front of me. And it’s a testament to all the guys that I’ve played with who just keep racking up wins.
“I’m really glad I get to share it with these guys. Lots of the guys have been with me since the beginning, and I’m looking forward to the future now.”
The Flames opened the scoring with less than a minute to go in the first period as Andrew Mangiapane put in his second of the season.
But then the Jets took over in the second with Appleton, Connor and Scheifele finding the back of the net. Appleton would add his second of the contest late in the third into an empty net.
The Jets outshot the Flames 27-24.
The home side also sported their “Reverse Retro” jerseys for the first time this season.
Jets forward Jansen Harkins missed the game with a lower body injury. David Gustafsson took his place in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games.
The Jets now have a four-day break with their fourth straight game against the Flames scheduled for Tuesday in Calgary. The puck will drop shortly after 9 p.m., with the pregame show on 680 CJOB beginning at 7 p.m.
Recent acquisition Pierre-Luc Dubois will complete his 14-day quarantine on the weekend and will be eligible to play in their next game.
The team is not scheduled to practice on Friday or Saturday.