With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, the Winnipeg Jets won for the fourth time in their last five games by dispatching the free-falling Vegas Golden Knights 7-3 Tuesday night.
After going more than 12 minutes without a single shot to start the game, the Jets scored five goals over the next 20 minutes to propel them to a victory in what was their biggest game of the season so far.
It took a scrap from Logan Stanley 10 minutes into the game to help kickstart the Jets.
“Stan kinda gets the crowd going, and we were able to be a little more direct, kinda a little faster with our game,” said Jets forward Adam Lowry. “And scored a couple goals there. I think that kinda changed the tide.
“Helly (Connor Hellebuyck) keeping us in it and then trying to find our legs a little bit. It wasn’t our best start for sure.”
Lowry scored a shorthanded goal in the third period and had a career-high 11 hits in the win.
The Golden Knights finished the road trip without a victory, going 0-for-5 as the Jets moved within two points of the final playoff spot.
“We just have to take care of what we can,” said interim head coach Dave Lowry. “We know the situation we are in here, how the schedule with Vegas. We realize there’s an opportunity to pull within a couple points, and it was a critical game for us.”
The Jets and Knights will meet again next Tuesday in what will surely be another pivotal matchup.
The goals have been coming in bunches lately as the Jets scored at least five goals for seventh time in their past 17 games.
“We’re confident with the puck right now, and we’re making some plays,” said captain Blake Wheeler. “We’re starting to get out of our zone a little bit faster. I think that’s kinda sparking some of our transition game, and allowing us to use some of our skill, use some of our speed.”
Kyle Connor lead the way again with a goal and two assists to tie his career high of 38 goals. It was also his 21st multi-point game of the season.
He now has ten goals and eight assists in just ten career games against Vegas. He’s also now riding a five-game goal streak.
“It’s amazing what happens when you have a shooter mindset,” said the head coach. “And you have a skillset Connor has. He doesn’t pass up opportunities to put the puck at the net, and when I say that, he also has an innate ability to make plays.”
After an uneventful start to the game, Stanley and Brandon native Keegan Kolesar decided to drop the gloves just past the midway point of the period.
Not long after that, Winnipeg finally registered a shot on goal. It took 12:26 to register a shot on former Winnipeg goalie Laurent Broissoit, drawing a mock cheer from the crowd when they finally landed one.
But that signaled a turnaround as the Jets outshot Vegas 9-7 in the period after starting in a 6-0 hole.
The first one to beat Brossoit came off the stick of Wheeler at the 18:08 mark. Wheeler carried the puck into the Golden Knights zone, made a cut back to the middle, and zipped a wrister high over the glove of Brossoit.
Just 33 seconds later, the white-hot Connor doubled the lead, collecting a rebound and ripping it through Brossoit’s five-hole for his 38th of the season and fifth in as many games.
Vegas cut the lead in half at the 6:09 mark of the second when Nicolas Roy beat Hellebuyck for his 11th of the season.
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But the two-goal cushion was restored by Nikolaj Ehlers after a couple of no-calls. Dylan DeMelo was dumped into the boards from behind by William Carrier, then Pierre-Luc Dubois crosschecked Dylan Coghlan behind the Vegas net. Seconds later, Ehlers collected a loose puck and beat Brossoit high short-side.
Brossoit’s night would come to an end at the 11:09 mark after Stanley beat him high from a tough angle for his first goal of the season and second of his career, completing the Gordie Howe hat-trick. Former Brandon Wheat King Logan Thompson relieved Brossoit after he allowed four goals on 13 shots.
With 3:43 to go in the period, the game’s first penalty was finally called when Evgenii Dadonov held Dubois in the Vegas end.
The Jets didn’t take advantage of it but not long after the penalty expired, Mark Scheifele walked into the slot, and ripped one high over the blocker of Thompson to make it 5-1.
The Golden Knights would cut the lead down to three early in the third after Brenden Dillon took a high-sticking penalty. Alex Pietrangelo ripped one from the point through a screen to make it 5-2 at the 4:34 mark. It’s the fourth straight game in which the Jets have allowed a power play goal.
Just shy of the midway point of the third, things started to get interesting when Michael Amadio squeezed one through Hellebuyck from just outside the crease.
But a minute later and with his team carrying all the momentum, Jonathan Marchessault slashed Ehlers in the Jets end and also earned a ten-minute misconduct after griping about the call a little too strongly. You could understand his frustration, though, as he had been slashed moments before and no call was made.
That proved to be a critical mistake because just four seconds into the man advantage, Josh Morrissey blasted a point shot under the glove of Thompson to make it a 6-3 game.
Vegas got another opportunity with the man advantage when Neal Pionk took a slashing penalty but instead, the shorthanded wizard Adam Lowry struck again.
Lowry raced onto a loose puck and stormed in on Thompson, beating the netminder with a simple deke to make it 7-3. It’s his third shorthanded goal of the season and fifth goal in his last ten games.
Hellebuyck turned aside 35 shots in the win. Thompson allowed three goals on ten shots in relief of Brossoit.
Andrew Copp sat out after he left their last game with an injury. He was replaced in the lineup by Adam Brooks.
Winnipeg returns to action Friday night at home against the Bruins. The pregame show begins at 5 p.m. on 680 CJOB, with the puck dropping just after 7 p.m.