Jets proving tough to beat when they open the scoring


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SAN JOSE — They scored two goals in 125 minutes of game action over the weekend, and came away with four points.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/01/2018 (1954 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SAN JOSE — They scored two goals in 125 minutes of game action over the weekend, and came away with four points.

Is that the sign of a very lucky team or a squad that knows how to grind out victories and protect even the slimmest of leads?

It would appear the Winnipeg Jets are the latter, given how well they’ve performed this year in tight games.

TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault (85) fires a shot in front of Vancouver Canucks' Derrick Pouliot (5) during first period on Sunday.

Winnipeg has now played 17 games this season that have been decided by one goal, and have managed to collect points in 16 of those contests, going 9-1-7.

“You get results doing it. The more success you have doing it, the more comfortable and confident you get doing it. It’s OK to win 1-0 or 2-1. I think that’s growth,” captain Blake Wheeler told reporters following Sunday’s 1-0 win over Vancouver on the heels of Saturday’s 2-1 shootout victory over Calgary.

The Jets are also 22-1-4 when they open the scoring in a game, which shows just how solid they are in protecting a lead regardless of when it happens. They are 16-1-1 when they head to the locker room with a lead after 20 minutes, and 22-0-1 when they’re ahead after two periods.

“I think we are getting comfortable in that shutdown game. We’re understanding the chances for and against. We know when we get in those low-chances games we can win those,” goaltender Connor Hellebuyck said after recording his fourth shutout of the year.

The fact the Jets lead the NHL in percentage of time played with a lead (41.8 per cent) is another feather in their cap. By contrast, the sad-sack Buffalo Sabres have only led in 18.7 per cent of all their games.

Add it all up and the numbers suggest Winnipeg is playing the exact kind of hockey needed for success, especially when it comes to the playoffs where goals are hard to come by.

“I think it’s part of the maturation process of our team. I think we’re able to play in those tight, low-scoring games and feel like we can win those,” defenceman Josh Morrissey said after Sunday’s game.


Winnipeg might want to lobby the NHL for more Sunday games going forward. Or perhaps all of them.

The Jets have been positively perfect on that particular day, now sporting a 6-0-0 record and outscoring opponents by a ridiculous margin of 26-2.

That includes a 7-1 win over Pittsburgh, a 5-0 win over Ottawa, a 4-0 win over St. Louis, a 5-0 win in Edmonton, a 4-1 win over San Jose and the latest 1-0 win over Vancouver.

Day of rest? Certainly not for the Jets.

Winnipeg still has five Sunday games remaining this season: home against the New York Rangers, home vs. Florida, in Carolina, home against Dallas and home vs. Nashville.

For the record, Mondays are their next best day of the week with a 4-1-0 record. Saturdays have provided the biggest issue, as Winnipeg is just 4-5-2.


Connor Hellebuyck keeps piling up the hardware.

The 24-year-old Jets goaltender was named the NHL’s second star of the week Monday for a dominant weekend performance.

Hellebuyck showed absolutely no rust coming out of the bye week, stopping 59 of the 60 shots he faced in Calgary and Vancouver.

He’s up to a 25-6-6 overall record with a 2.29 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and four shutouts. That puts him second-overall in goalie wins, seventh in GAA, seventh in SV% and tied for second in shutouts.

Hellebuyck has been even more stellar at home, posting a league-best 17 wins to go with just one regulation loss and one overtime loss. He has a 2.06 GAA, .932 SV% and three shutouts at Bell MTS Place.

He was named the league’s first star for the week ending Dec. 31 and will represent the Jets at next week’s All-Star game in Tampa Bay, along with captain Blake Wheeler.


Brendan Lemieux is rejoining the Jets for a trip south.

The 21-year-old forward was recalled from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose on Monday and will accompany the team to California for games Tuesday in San Jose and Thursday in Anaheim.

Winnipeg needs an extra forward for the trip, as neither centre Adam Lowry (upper body) nor Shawn Matthias (upper body) appear ready to return to active duty this week.

Lemieux has played in eight games this season, notching his first NHL goal on Oct. 29 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He has 25 points (9G, 16A) in 27 games for Manitoba.

Twitter: @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.


Updated on Monday, January 22, 2018 3:04 PM CST: Updates photo

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