Winnipeg comes up big in Dallas

Captain Wheeler continues hot streak with four assists

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DALLAS, Texas — They say everything is bigger down here in Texas. And while Monday’s 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars is still just worth the usual two points in the standings, there’s no denying the Winnipeg Jets came up with an extra-large effort in the Lone Star state.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/11/2017 (1846 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

DALLAS, Texas — They say everything is bigger down here in Texas. And while Monday’s 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars is still just worth the usual two points in the standings, there’s no denying the Winnipeg Jets came up with an extra-large effort in the Lone Star state.

It all began with the captain, Blake Wheeler, who set up all four Jets goals — including three in the first period — as the Jets rode yet another strong start to victory.

Mark Scheifele opened the scoring just 26 seconds into the game after taking a feed from Wheeler, with the other assist going to linemate Kyle Connor. He wired a shot past Dallas goalie Ben Bishop as Winnipeg quickly grabbed the momentum.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) on the bench while playing the Dallas Stars' during second period NHL action in Dallas, Monday, November 6, 2017.

“You come into a tough building against a really good hockey team and score on the first shift, it helps things,” said Wheeler, who is now third in scoring in the NHL with 21 points, including 13 in the past five games.

Wheeler assisted on all three of Scheifele’s goals in a 5-2 win at home against Dallas last Thursday, giving him seven helpers in two games against the Stars.

“It’s obviously the cliché, that everyone wants to win and all that. But that’s all I care about. I don’t even talk about the individual stuff,” said Wheeler.

“I think we’re ready to play these games, because we respect them so much, how talented they are. We know if we come in here and take a night off, we’re going to get our doors blown off.”

Patrik Laine made it 2-0 by scoring one of those “how in the heck did he do that” goals less than five minutes later. The 19-year-old sniper somehow found a seam, probably no more than the size of the puck, and fired a blistering shot through a crowd and past Bishop.

Laine has now scored in three straight games since publicly calling himself out last week for the state of his game. He’s up to seven on the season. Laine clearly loves seeing Stars; he has 10 goals in his NHL career against Dallas, which is all of seven games.

Connor then finished off a great opening 20 minutes for the Jets when he converted a two-on-one saucer pass from Wheeler with just less than a minute left in the period. Connor has scored three times in nine games since being called up from the Manitoba Moose and put on the top line to take the place of injured forward Mathieu Perreault.

“I think our line has one mindset, and that’s to set the pace for the team, play hard every shift, play direct, don’t make any bonehead plays,” said Wheeler.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Dallas Stars' Mattias Janmark (13) prepares to fire on Winnipeg Jets' goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) during second period NHL action in Dallas, Monday, November 6, 2017.

The Jets continued their pattern of tremendous starts. They’ve now outscored opponents 24-10 in the first period of their 14 games — including 6-1 in the two contests against Dallas.

Bryan Little took a high sticking penalty early in the second period, giving the league’s top power play a chance to go to work. They wasted no time, as Dallas captain Jamie Benn took a rebound off the back boards and, with one of his 11 shots on goal in the game, jammed it through Connor Hellebuyck’s pads.

The Jets challenged the play, claiming goalie interference. Benn briefly made contact with Hellebuyck, but the goal was upheld after a brief review, much to the chagrin of Jets head coach Paul Maurice, who could be seen lobbing a few verbal volleys towards the officials from the bench.

“It’s on the line. I think it’s interference because I can’t get my stick there,” Hellebuyck said after the game.

He made his 10th start of the season for the Jets and stopped 33 of 34 shots. Hellebuyck has yet to lose in regulation this year, going 8-0-2.

Wheeler continued to shine, this time in his own end of the rink. At one point in the second period, with Dallas pressing and he and his teammates out of gas and trapped in their end, Wheeler made a huge block that allowed the Jets to clear the puck and get fresh legs on the ice.

“His approach is not about offence. It’s about playing the game and winning games,” Maurice said of his captain.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (29) of Finland gains control of the puck in front of Dallas Stars' Mattias Janmark (13) of Sweden and Dan Hamhuis (2) in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Dallas.

Shawn Matthias and Josh Morrissey were both flagged for penalties later in the period as the Jets flirted with danger, but some strong penalty killing and a few key saves from Hellebuyck kept the lead at 3-1.

Winnipeg locked it down in the third, and Scheifele sealed the victory with an empty-netter in the final minute. He now leads the team with nine goals on the season.

“When we put a full 60 minutes together, we know we’re a tough team to beat,” said Scheifele.

“I think that starts right from the top in Wheels. He’s a great leader in our room. He makes sure we don’t get too high, we don’t get too low.”

Centre Adam Lowry returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a back injury. He went back to his usual spot on the third line and was flanked by wingers Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev.

Lowry also spent some time on the penalty kill, which went three-for-four on the night.

“Really good. It was such a powerful line. He was a real important part of our game tonight,” said Maurice.

Shawn Matthias moved down to the fourth line with centre Matt Hendricks and winger Joel Armia. Brendan Lemieux came out of the lineup with Lowry’s return, joining Marko Dano and Ben Chiarot as the other scratches.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Dallas Stars' Ben Bishop (30) defends against pressure from Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (55) in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Dallas.

The Jets (8-3-3) have collected points in 11 of their last 12 games (8-1-3) and improved to a perfect 4-0-0 against the Central division.

The team flew to Las Vegas following the game and will spend a few days in Sin City getting ready for Friday’s game against the Golden Knights. They road trip ends Saturday night in Phoenix against the Arizona Coyotes.

Dallas (8-7-0) had won five straight in their building.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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Updated on Monday, November 6, 2017 11:35 PM CST: Full write through adds photos

Updated on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 7:56 AM CST: Edited

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