January 23, 2019

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Winnipeg Jets (31 – 15 – 2)

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Jets embarrass Flyers with 7-1 drubbing

It didn't take the Winnipeg Jets very long to restore their offensive power following an unexpected outage.

After getting blanked by the St. Louis Blues on Friday night, the Jets responded by lighting up the Philadelphia Flyers 7-1 on Sunday afternoon at Bell MTS Place.

“We started to skate and that’s the foundation of our game, so all of the other pieces come," coach Paul Maurice said of going from famine to feast when it comes to scoring.

"The gaps get closed, you get the puck moving, you have the puck more and we made much more decisions about when to put pucks to the net and the chaos that comes from that. Most of that started from our blue line, getting pucks to the net. And when you’re skating, you’ll draw penalties, you’ll be good on the power play and give yourself a chance to be good.”

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It didn't take the Winnipeg Jets very long to restore their offensive power following an unexpected outage.

After getting blanked by the St. Louis Blues on Friday night, the Jets responded by lighting up the Philadelphia Flyers 7-1 on Sunday afternoon at Bell MTS Place.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets' Brendan Lemieux (48) tries to get open in front of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth (30) as Robert Hagg (8) defends during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' Brendan Lemieux (48) tries to get open in front of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth (30) as Robert Hagg (8) defends during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday.

"We started to skate and that’s the foundation of our game, so all of the other pieces come," coach Paul Maurice said of going from famine to feast when it comes to scoring.

"The gaps get closed, you get the puck moving, you have the puck more and we made much more decisions about when to put pucks to the net and the chaos that comes from that. Most of that started from our blue line, getting pucks to the net. And when you’re skating, you’ll draw penalties, you’ll be good on the power play and give yourself a chance to be good."

Perhaps most encouraging is the balanced way in which they did it. The Jets got goals from seven different skaters, including three at even-strength, three on the power play and one shorthanded.

Winnipeg improves to 18-9-2 and sit just one point back of Nashville and Colorado for first place in the Central Division, with a game in hand on both clubs. Philadelphia drops to 12-13-3.

Lost in the one-sided final score is the fact the Jets weren't very good out of the gate. Connor Hellebuyck was sensational in the opening period, including an early Philadelphia power play in which he made three terrific saves to keep it scoreless despite his team being outshot 8-1 in the first five minutes.

"Honestly that was pretty ugly from our group. It goes to show that we’re able to put the puck in the net. We got a little bit better after the first period, but certainly didn’t like the first. Bucky made a lot of good saves to weather their storm, and we were able to capitalize on a lot of our chances," said defenceman Tyler Myers, who had a goal and assist.

Hellebuyck has now surrendered just one goal in three consecutive games, stopping 89 of 92 shots in the process including 36 of 37 on Sunday. That included robbing Wayne Simmonds of what looked like an easy tap-in goal in that lopsided first period.

"It’s always nice to get a lucky save here and there, too. I’d say a little bit of luck. Then the guys kind of channeled it for me so I was easy to read the play well. I think any time you get a big early save like that, I use that as some momentum. And I think the team used it as well," said Hellebuyck, who has repeatedly stated he loves playing matinee contests.

"Something about those afternoon games just suits me. I like waking up and having no down time. I feel very energized, not really skating in the morning, not doing much. Just coming to the rink and excited to play," he said.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Jets' Kyle Connor (81), Mark Scheifele (55) and Dustin Byfuglien (33) celebrate Byfuglien's goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jets' Kyle Connor (81), Mark Scheifele (55) and Dustin Byfuglien (33) celebrate Byfuglien's goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday.

Goaltending was a big story of the day. Because while Hellebuyck was putting up a wall, Michal Neuvirth sprung a leak at the other end of the ice. Kyle Connor's seemingly harmless shot squeezed through him to open the scoring 11:38 into the game, and then Josh Morrissey made it 2-0 three minutes later when his point shot went through a crowd on the power play.

Jakub Voracek cut the deficit in half late in the first period, but that was as close as the Flyers would get.

Brandon Tanev buried a juicy rebound just over seven minutes into the middle period, chasing Neuvirth from the game after giving up three goals on just 10 shots. That may have been the turning point, as the Flyers began to sag from that point on.

"We got fast and pucks to the net cause chaos and you get some rebound opportunities," Maurice said of Tanev's effort and the impact it had.

The Jets didn't exactly go easy on backup Anthony Stolarz. Dustin Byfuglien on the power play, and Blake Wheeler on a shorthanded breakaway, made it 5-1 before the period was over.

Things got heated near the end of the frame as Philadelphia defenceman Robert Hagg drilled Winnipeg forward Kyle Connor from behind, earning a five-minute major and game misconduct. That set off a melee in which Mark Scheifele and Byfuglien tried to get at Hagg, and others. Byfuglien ended up with a two-minute roughing penalty and 10-minute misconduct.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) saves the shot from Philadelphia Flyers' Michael Raffl (12) as Jets' Dmitry Kulikov (5) and Tyler Myers (57) defend during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) saves the shot from Philadelphia Flyers' Michael Raffl (12) as Jets' Dmitry Kulikov (5) and Tyler Myers (57) defend during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday.

"We stick up for our teammates when bad things happen. We’re a brotherhood. We gotta stand up for each other," said Scheifele.

Connor escaped injury on the play and returned to action at the start of the third period. Bryan Little connected early in the final period on the ensuing power play, and then Myers finished off the scoring a few minutes later.

The shots ended up 37-35 for Philadelphia, which is quite something considering Philadelphia had a 24-8 advantage near the midway mark of the game. The Flyers had played Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, winning 6-2, and looked like a team that ran out of gas after a spirited start.

For Winnipeg, it was a good bounce-back after losing 1-0 to kick off the four-game homestand. The Jets suffered from what Maurice had dubbed a "lethargic" offensive attack that night.

"You gotta get your legs under you. Obviously that wasn’t the first that we wanted. Helly made a lot of big saves to keep us in it. We had a good talk at the intermission and we stepped up our game and it showed," said Scheifele, who had three assists in the game.

Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine each had a pair of helpers. Morrissey had two assists to go with his goal as he returned to the lineup after missing the past two games with a lower-body injury. Sami Niku was a healthy scratch as a result.

"Over the course of the season nights like (Friday) are going to happen. It was definitely something, for me watching last game, I thought we generated a lot of great chances and did a lot of good things. (STL's Jake Allen) made some big saves in that game, and they had some big blocks. It just didn't go our way. I think we stuck to a lot of the same things as last game, but maybe got a few more pucks to the net and were rewarded. But it's nice to have contributions throughout the lineup and have a big win like that," said Morrissey..

The Jets return to action Tuesday night when the Chicago Blackhawks come to town.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg 

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

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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History

Updated on Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 6:43 PM CST: Writethru

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