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Jets’ attack too much for Philly

Five different skaters score for Winnipeg

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PHILADELPHIA — At first blush, it looked as though the Winnipeg Jets were going to have their way with the Philadelphia Flyers. Then the final 40 minutes played out, turning the game into a roller-coaster affair that went down to the dying moments.

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PHILADELPHIA — At first blush, it looked as though the Winnipeg Jets were going to have their way with the Philadelphia Flyers. Then the final 40 minutes played out, turning the game into a roller-coaster affair that went down to the dying moments.

Once the dust finally settled, it was the Jets who found themselves in the winner’s circle, earning a 5-3 victory over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center Sunday night.

The Jets took a commanding 3-0 lead through 20 minutes, only for the Flyers to claw their way back, evening the game minutes into the third period. Winnipeg would eventually pull away down the stretch, with an empty-net goal from Kevin Stenlund with 27 seconds left providing a chance for the Jets to exhale.

DERIK HAMILTON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets’ Karson Kuhlman (20), center, scores a goal past Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Felix Sandstrom (32), Scott Laughton (21) and Tony DeAngelo (77) during the third period in Philadelphia on Sunday.

“Those three goals came pretty quick…that’s a very proud team over there and we know (Flyers coach John) Tortorella was going to get them cranked up again, which he did. We were kind of hanging on at the end,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “They played last night, we played last night; both teams are playing three (games) in four (nights) and when that happens there’s going to be some sloppy plays. It’s as simple as that.”

Winnipeg will take the victory, its second in as many nights after earning a convincing 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators 24 hours earlier. The win improved the Jets record to 31-16-1, putting them in a tie with the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference.

The Flyers have been playing better hockey of late, having won seven of their last 10 prior to puck drop. The loss dropped them to 20-21-7, good enough for second last in the Metropolitan Division, better than only the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Let’s dig a little deeper into this one…

1 It was as strong a start for the Jets that we’ve seen in recent memory. They’ve had games where they’ve dominated the opening 20 minutes but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

DERIK HAMILTON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele, left, celebrates after scoring a goal past Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Felix Sandstrom, center, and the defense of Travis Sanheim (6) during the first period.

That certainly wasn’t the case on Sunday, as the Jets exploded for three goals over a span of three minutes and 38 seconds.

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby tipped home a Brenden Dillon shot to get the ball rolling, before Kyle Connor converted a nice pass by Cole Perfetti on a 2-on-1. That set the stage for a beauty tic-tac-toe goal that began on the stick of Nikolaj Ehlers, before making its way to Blake Wheeler, who then dished it to Mark Scheifele for a wide open cage and a 3-0 edge before the midway mark of the frame.

At points, it looked like the Jets were toying with their opponent, only for the game to take a turn the other way, starting with a goal from Ivan Provorov with 1:21 left in the first.

2 The Jets penalty kill entered the game ranked second in the NHL and had gone a perfect 18-for-18 over their previous six games, including 8-for-8 in the first three games of the road trip.

They’ve had a lot of good nights this year, but Sunday was not one of them. The Flyers scored twice on the power play, with both goals coming from former Jet Kevin Hayes.

DERIK HAMILTON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich dives to make a save on a shot from Philadelphia Flyers’ Kevin Hayes during the second period.

The first goal came from a near impossible angle, with Hayes firing a bullet top-corner from the right corner that beat David Rittich high. The second was born out of a fortuitous rebound, that popped right onto Hayes stick at the side of the net.

Both were quality shots and goals, but that didn’t matter to a Jets PK unit that takes a lot of pride in shutting their opponent down. Needless to say, finishing two-for-four left a bitter taste in their collective mouths.

“We want to be perfect,” said Dillon. “There’s a couple of bad bounces mixed in there, and that’s going to happen.”

3 It wasn’t as if the Jets were dominated down the stretch. In fact, they might have generated more quality scoring chances in the second than the first.

Credit to Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom for hanging in there and giving his team a chance. The Jets big guns kept coming but were unable to find the back of the net.

YONG KIM / THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER / TNS

Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry reacts after getting hit by the puck against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Felix Sandstrom during the second period.

That’s when you need your secondary scoring to kick in, and it would. Karson Khulman broke a 3-3 tie at the 8:44 mark of the third, driving the net with the puck, which ultimately rolled off his stick, fooling Sandstrom as the puck slipped through his five-hole.

“It was nice to see that one slide in,” said Kuhlman. “It’s huge obviously getting on the board and helping. We have a lot of guys that are going pretty good right now.”

The Jets depth scoring had dipped recently, with the last goal from a bottom-six player coming from Kuhlman in a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres back on Jan. 12. On Saturday, they got a goal from all four lines, with three from the bottom-six.

4 It’s the second straight game the Jets have generated notable offence from their blue line, with the defencemen combining for five points on the night — two more than they put up against Ottawa the night before.

Dillon and Neal Pionk drew assists on the Jonsson-Fjallby goal and Nate Schmidt had the second assist on the Connor marker, feeding Perfetti up the middle to create the odd-man rush. DeMelo and Dillon also provided the assists for Khulman’s game-winner. Bowness made it a priority at the start of the season to activate his defence, challenging them to join the rush and help create in the offensive zone. Winnipeg’s defence combined for 24 goals last season and Bowness, feeling that wasn’t nearly enough, wanted that number to jump to 40 this year.

DERIK HAMILTON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets’ Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, center, attempts to shoot against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Felix Sandstrom (32) past the defense of Flyers’ Rasmus Ristolainen (55) during the third period.

Through 48 games, the Jets defenders have 25 goals, a pace that would see them reach their goal of 40. The Jets defencemen have generated 122 points on the year, the second-most in the NHL, behind only the San Jose Sharks (124).

“They all can move the puck well enough and they’re all a big part of our offence,” said Bowness. “We’ve stressed that since Day 1 of training camp and we’ll continue to stress that every game.”

5 With the Jets playing the second of back-to-back games, Connor Hellebuyck was given the night off. That made way for David Rittich to earn his 12th start of the season and first since a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins back on Jan. 13.

Rittich finished with 28 saves on the night. He had the three goals against, but only Hayes first goal was questionable, if only because of the angle. The first was a 2-on-1, with nothing for him to do and Hayes’ second marker was more bad luck than anything.

“Couple huge saves for sure,” said Kuhlman. “He’s a great guy and steps into his role when he needs to. I thought he did a heck of a job tonight.”

DERIK HAMILTON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets’ Kevin Stenlund, right, scores an empty-net goal past the defense of Philadelphia Flyers’ Tony DeAngelo (77) during the third period.

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.

History

Updated on Monday, January 23, 2023 10:54 AM CST: Corrects spelling of tic-tac-toe

Updated on Monday, January 23, 2023 2:15 PM CST: Typo fixed

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