It may only be the second week of November, but being in first place in your division is still a big deal.
The Winnipeg Jets accomplished that thanks to a convincing 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars Tuesday night, capping off a perfect three-game homestand on Filipino Heritage Night.
The Jets scored four goals in the second period, including three less than three minutes apart to propel them to their sixth win in their last seven games.
“They’re starting to realize that we’ve got a good team here,” said head coach Rick Bowness. “If we play the right way and we play fast and we pressure them. That first period is a pretty good example of it.
“We got a lot of great opportunities offensively from playing good defence, and moving the puck quick. So, it’s starting to sink in. There’s always room for improvement, got a long way to go, still have lots of work ahead of us, but we’re getting there.”
The win moved the Jets into a tie with the Stars with 17 points apiece atop the Central Division. The Stars had won their last three games in a row.
“It was a big win,” said forward Mark Scheifele. “We stuck to it. We didn’t try too much and kinda let things come to us, and capitalize when we had the chance. It was a good match, and happy with our game.
“We’re just comfortable playing our game. We’re not sitting back on our heals, We’re playing on our toes. We’re making it hard on teams to make plays and make continuous passes. That comes with playing fast and having good sticks.”
The Jets top line was dominant against the Stars. Scheifele scored twice and Mason Appleton had a goal and two assists.
“We got scored on and then we definitely turned the tide,” said Appleton. “Thought we really stepped up with some nice plays in the O-zone for two pretty easy goals for Mark.
“We love where our game is at right now and to be in first place feels damn good.”
Winnipeg held Dallas to only 22 shots.
The Jets controlled the flow of the game from the drop of the puck, sending 17 shots on Scott Wedgewood during a wide open first period, but were unable to find the back of the net.
It was a very entertaining opening 20 minutes, but it was nothing compared to what the second period had in store.
After a rough first, the Stars came out of the gates with a purpose in the second, leading to Jason Robertson’s ninth goal of the season just over three minutes in.
And that was about it for Dallas.
Just 21 seconds later, Scheifele potted his seventh of the year to even the score, and 70 seconds later the Jets took the lead thanks to a Dallas gaffe.
Wedgewood misplayed the puck behind his net, turning it over to Blake Wheeler. He got it towards the net where Cole Perfetti hit a while open Pierre-Luc Dubois for his sixth.
Winnipeg wasn’t done there. 95 seconds after the Dubois goal, Kyle Connor went to work in the Stars end, skating through multiple defenders before setting up Scheifele for a tap-in goal.
The Jets continued to pour on the pressure as the period wound down, leading to a fourth goal in the frame. With less than two minutes left, Saku Maenalanen deflected a Neal Pionk point shot through Wedgewood’s legs to make it 4-1 after 40 minutes. It’s the first goal for Maenalanen in a Jets uniform and his first NHL goal of any kind since 2019.
Winnipeg sat on the lead from there, shutting down the Stars in the final 20 to seal the deal. Appleton added an empty-netter after the Stars decided to pull the goalie with four minutes left.
With the win, the Jets improve to 8-3-1 on the season, tied with the Stars atop the central, but with one fewer game played, the Jets lead in points percentage.
The Jets are now off until a weekend back-to-back out west, starting in Calgary on Saturday night before heading to Seattle on Sunday.