Jets edge Sens to snap skid

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OTTAWA – Far from pretty, the Winnipeg Jets spun what was for stretches an ugly effort into a much-needed win, beating the Ottawa Senators 4-3 at Canadian Tire Centre Sunday night.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/04/2022 (234 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA – Far from pretty, the Winnipeg Jets spun what was for stretches an ugly effort into a much-needed win, beating the Ottawa Senators 4-3 at Canadian Tire Centre Sunday night.

Up against a Senators team that’s long been destined to miss the post-season, tired from playing in New York City 24 hours earlier and against a goalie making just his second career start, the Jets lacked the kind of urgency you’d expect from a club whose playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. They would eventually get their engines revving, just enough to prevent a late-game collapse and secure a valuable two points with the victory.

“I didn’t like our first period. I didn’t like our puck management, I didn’t like the pace we were playing, I didn’t like the urgency in our game,” Jets interim coach Dave Lowry said. “But to their credit, we had an answer in the second period, we came out and we did things in the second what we wanted to do at the start of the game.”

CP Winnipeg Jets left wing Kyle Connor (81) celebreats his goal against the Ottawa Senators with left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) and centre Paul Stastny (25) during third period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Sunday. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

The win improved the Jets record to 34-28-11 and snapped a four-game losing streak dating back to late March. The victory offered little help in the standings, though, as the Jets remain seven points shy of the Dallas Stars for the final wildcard playoff spot after Dallas defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 earlier in the night.

The Senators dropped to 26-39-6 with the loss, in what was their third consecutive defeat. The season-series between Winnipeg and Ottawa wraps up with each club winning one game apiece, after Ottawa downed the Jets 5-2 back on Mar. 24.

Lowry claimed after the morning skate that his team is still full of belief in their pursuit for an unlikely playoff spot. But you wouldn’t have believed it by how Winnipeg opened the game.

The Senators wasted little time making their mark, opening the scoring just 1:48 into the game. Josh Norris, Ottawa’s most dangerous scorer, was left all alone in the slot, where he was fed a pass from Brady Tkachuk before firing home his team-leading 32nd goal of the season.

Ottawa wasn’t done there, either. Had it not been for the stellar play of Connor Hellebuyck, who finished the night with 31 saves, the Jets could easily have dug themselves an even bigger hole. Instead, Hellebuyck made several impressive stops throughout the game, especially in the final 2:40 with the Senators net empty and an extra attacker on the ice.

CP Ottawa Senators goaltender Mads Sogaard (33) watches the puck bounce in the back of the net after a goal by Winnipeg Jets left wing Nikolaj Ehlers (27), not shown, during the first period. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

“We got yelled at after the first, so it kinda woke everyone up. We’ve needed that for a while, so it was good to have,” Stastny said. “We probably thought they were going to come out a little easier, a little more relaxed. They played last night. But these guys have been playing good lately. Just look at us, sometimes we’ve been better on the second night of back to backs for some reason. They had that nothing to lose mentality and we kinda watched too much. (Hellebuyck) made some big saves there to keep the game 1-0.”

The Jets would capitalize on some puck luck late in the first, as a Nikolaj Ehlers pass towards the net deflected off the stretched-out stick of Victor Mete and past Mads Sogaard. With the goal, Ehlers extended his point streak to six games (5G, 5A).

The goal also had some added significance, as Ehlers and Sogaard, who finished with 21 saves, are from the same town, Aalborg, in their native Denmark. The two posed for pictures before the game; Sogaard, who is 21, five years younger than Ehlers, is playing in just his second NHL game.

“For him to get this opportunity and make the most of it…for a guy like me, who works out with him every single summer, I’ve known him for a long time, I’ve know his dad for a long time, it gives you chills,” Ehlers said. “I’ve played against my cousin in this league. I’ve played some Danish friends. But to play against somebody that’s from your hometown, that’s special.”

It was a much better start for the Jets in the second period. Opening the frame with a power play, Winnipeg capitalized late on the man-advantage to take its first lead, 2-1. The Jets finished 2-for-4 on the power play.

CP Winnipeg Jets left wing Nikolaj Ehlers (27) celebrates his goal with centre Mark Scheifele (55) as Ottawa Senators centre Colin White (36) skates by, during the first period. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

Pierre-Luc Dubois finished off a stellar pass by Kyle Connor, who took advantage of a wide-open lane to the net. Dubois’ 100th career NHL marker snapped an eight-game goalless drought.

Winnipeg padded its lead midway through the period, when Mark Scheifele won a battle on the boards to send Ehlers and Paul Stastny on a 2-on-1. Ehlers waited until Nikita Zaitsev freed his stick from the passing lane before threading the needle to Stastny, who made no mistake for his 19th of the season.

Scheifele took a hit on his next shift, appearing to favour his shoulder after the collision. The Jets top centre would make his way to the locker room and didn’t return for the rest of the period before being officially ruled out by the Jets during the second intermission.

“You know what, he’ll be… because we’re on the road, he’ll be evaluated,” Lowry said. “He won’t play tomorrow (against the Montreal Canadiens) and then he will be re-evaluated with our doctors (when the Jets return home).”

That set up a nail-biting third period, one that would go down to the dying seconds.

CP Ottawa Senators centre Colin White (36) tries to control the puck in front of Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as he plays at the top of his crease during the second period. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

Tkachuk scored his first of two power-play goals in the frame just 50 seconds into the period. Kyle Connor would answer back for the Jets, scoring his team-leading 42nd, also on the man-advantage.

But when Tkachuk cut the lead to 4-3, with 7:02 remaining, what appeared to be a sure win for the visitors flipped to look like an inevitable comeback for the home side. Tkachuk’s goal required a review for high-sticking but with his stick making contact below the crossbar, the replay quickly confirmed the goal.

What transpired from there was an onslaught on chances in front for the Senators, all of which Hellebuyck swallowed up to clinch the win.

“Our goalies, not just (Hellebuyck), but (Eric Comrie) as well, have been fantastic all year,” Ehlers said. “They give us a chance to be in every single game. It’s up to us to give something back, and tonight (Hellebuyck) showed that again, made a huge save at the end on a rebound to keep it a 4-3 game. They’ve been great. I think, or I know, all the guys are trying to give back. We got the win tonight. We look forward to tomorrow.”

The Jets wrap up their two-game road trip in Montreal Monday night with a game against the Canadiens.

CP Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) and defenceman Nate Schmidt (88) in front of Ottawa Senators centre Colin White (36) and left wing Tim Stutzle (18) during the third period. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

Jeff.Hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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