Scheifele’s hat trick propels Jets to 6-3 win over Wild in front of more than 12,000 fans

Heading into the all-star break, there was much written and said in the media about the need for Mark Scheifele to turn things around.

The Jets’ centre has responded in a big way, extending his goal-scoring streak to five games thanks to a hat trick in a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

Scheifele also added an assist for a four-point night, and now has seven goals and 11 points in the five games since the all-star break.

“I just went down south and got some sun and played some golf and spent time with some buddies,” Scheifele said. “It was a nice refresher. Obviously, the start of the year was a little funky, you know COVID, all the restrictions, all that stuff. It was nice to live my life a little bit. It’s been nice coming back.”

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“He’s hot,” said forward Cole Perfetti. “He was getting all those chances, they just kinda weren’t going in the net and now you see them, he’s picking corners and getting a little bit of puck luck, and that’s what everyone needs. You need a little bit of puck luck.”

Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Scheifele & Perfetti Interview – Feb. 16' RAW: Winnipeg Jets Scheifele & Perfetti Interview – Feb. 16
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Scheifele & Perfetti Interview – Feb. 16 – Feb 16, 2022

The Jets certainly didn’t have their best showing in their last outing in losing to the Chicago Blackhawks, but after getting off to a slow start against the Wild, they managed to turn the tide in the second period.

“Maybe we had sweet potato instead of mashed potatoes, I don’t know,” said Scheifele. “It’s just one of those things. You know, that’s hockey. You’re not going to have it every night. Some of those days when you don’t have it – you gotta battle through the mud and find a way. And obviously, we didn’t against Chicago, but we were even a little slow off the get-go tonight, but we kept battling, kept battling.”

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It was the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two Central Division rivals.

The Wild have lost in regulation just three times in their last 15 games, and two of those losses came at the hands of the Jets after a 2-0 Winnipeg win just a week ago.

Blake Wheeler recorded four assists in the win, just a couple games after a five-point effort against the Nashville Predators.

“Our best players have to be our best players to win hockey games,” said head coach Dave Lowry. “You don’t want to put any pressure on anybody, but that’s reality.”

Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Dave Lowry Interview – Feb. 16' RAW: Winnipeg Jets Dave Lowry Interview – Feb. 16
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Dave Lowry Interview – Feb. 16 – Feb 16, 2022

Jets forward Andrew Copp fell awkwardly after a collision in the Wild zone with just four minutes left in the game. He appeared to limp off the ice and did not return.

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“I don’t know where he’s going to be,” Lowry said. “But he’ll obviously be evaluated tonight and we’ll be able to give you specifics tomorrow.”

READ MORE: Inconsistent Jets falter at home in 3-1 loss to Blackhawks

Just past the midway point of the first period, the visitors opened the scoring. A point shot from captain Jared Spurgeon was heading wide of the net before it ricocheted off the leg of Joel Eriksson Ek and past Connor Hellebuyck.

The Wild carried the momentum from that goal through the rest of the opening frame, peppering Hellebuyck with shots but the Jets’ keeper stood strong, turning aside 14 shots through 20 minutes.

After going long stretches without being able to generate any kind of offence, the Jets found the equalizer at the 12:20 mark of the second. Scheifele got free of coverage in front of Cam Talbot and redirected a nice pass from Wheeler past the Wild goalie.

The Jets centre wasn’t done scoring.

With just 11 seconds left in the period and Winnipeg on a power play, Scheifele wired in a one-timer off a Wild defenceman to give the Jets a 2-1 lead heading into the third.

But wait, there’s more!

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Just 67 seconds into the third, after a scramble at the side of Talbot’s crease, Wheeler slid the puck to Scheifele for a tap-in, earning him his fifth career hat trick.

Only 76 seconds later, the Jets made it 4-1 when Nate Schmidt’s point shot was deflected by Perfetti for his second career NHL goal.

The Wild didn’t wait long to cut into Winnipeg’s lead. At the 4:20 mark, Mats Zuccarello beat Hellebuyck high blocker-side to make it 4-2.

But just past the midway point of the third, the Jets’ leading goal scorer got in on the fun. Standing just inside his own blue line, Perfetti hit Kyle Connor in stride with a great pass, sending the sniper in alone on Talbot. Connor beat him five-hole for his 27th goal of the season.

Minnesota pulled their goalie with more than three minutes remaining, and cut the lead down to two with 3:14 to go when former Jet Dmitry Kulikov knocked home a loose puck.

The comeback bid was short-lived, however. Paul Stastny hit the empty net with 2:10 to go to put the game on ice.

Hellebuyck was rock-solid in net making 33 saves, though he had a number of misadventures playing the puck outside the crease, to the point where he even got a Bronx cheer from the home crowd when he made a good pass in the third.

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READ MORE: Jets expect full house at Wednesday’s game against Wild

The announced attendance was 12,527 for the first game since Dec. 19 in which every seat was allowed to be filled based on government COVID restrictions.

Winnipeg will look to win back-to-back games when they host Seattle for the first time Thursday night.

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