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Jets score early, often as they dump Blackhawks 6-3

Winnipeg Jets' Bryan Little (18), Patrik Laine (29), Josh Morrissey (44), Kyle Connor (81) and Jacob Trouba (8) celebrate after Connor scored as Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews (19) looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Winnipeg Jets' Bryan Little (18), Patrik Laine (29), Josh Morrissey (44), Kyle Connor (81) and Jacob Trouba (8) celebrate after Connor scored as Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews (19) looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/12/2018 (186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Jets found out again Tuesday night the Chicago Blackhawks might be a shadow of their former selves but refuse to go gently into that good night.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Jets built a big lead on their Central Division rivals and watched it shrink away, but still managed to sock away another crucial two points in the first half of the NHL campaign.

Speedy winger Kyle Connor scored a pair of goals to pace the Jets to a 6-3 victory over the floundering Blackhawks at Bell MTS Place. The 22-year-old Michigan product, who scored his first goal in 10 games Sunday — his birthday, of all days — could have netted a few more but was robbed on at least two occasions by Chicago goalie Cam Ward and then missed the open cage when the Blackhawks pulled their netminder for an extra attacker.

"We came out ready right from the start. You know, it showed on the scoreboard," said Connor. "Just the way we were on pucks, playing through guys and being hard to play against.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/12/2018 (186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Jets found out again Tuesday night the Chicago Blackhawks might be a shadow of their former selves but refuse to go gently into that good night.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Jets built a big lead on their Central Division rivals and watched it shrink away, but still managed to sock away another crucial two points in the first half of the NHL campaign.

Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien lets Chicago Blackhawks' David Kampf know what he thinks of a slashing penalty he took on the play during the first period.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien lets Chicago Blackhawks' David Kampf know what he thinks of a slashing penalty he took on the play during the first period.

Speedy winger Kyle Connor scored a pair of goals to pace the Jets to a 6-3 victory over the floundering Blackhawks at Bell MTS Place. The 22-year-old Michigan product, who scored his first goal in 10 games Sunday — his birthday, of all days — could have netted a few more but was robbed on at least two occasions by Chicago goalie Cam Ward and then missed the open cage when the Blackhawks pulled their netminder for an extra attacker.

"We came out ready right from the start. You know, it showed on the scoreboard," said Connor. "Just the way we were on pucks, playing through guys and being hard to play against."

Connor was the Jets' primo performer, with his 12th and 13th goals of the season coming on five shots and more than 20 minutes of ice time. But he wasn't the only skater in 'aviator blue' to flash some speed against a Blackhawks squad in freefall.

Patrik Laine was quick to pucks and had three shots but couldn't score for the sixth straight game, while the trio of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers was flying. 

"All speed. You know, we were real quick," summed up Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "They had a tough start and we were really good. You marry those two things together and you get an unusual start to the game like we had."

The Jets had the kind of takeoff they were looking for, posting a field goal on the board well before the visitors managed to test starting goalie Laurent Brossoit with their first shot.

If Winnipeg's backup — called on to guard the net for the first time in five games — had hoped for a hectic start after 10 days of inactivity, the anemic Blackhawks didn't supply it. The Jets built a 3-0 lead and registered 14 shots to Chicago's none until the 17:36 mark of the first frame when Alex DeBrincat's long wrist shot was easily handled by Brossoit.

Winnipeg Jets' goaltender Laurent Brossoit makes a blocker save on a shot by the Chicago Blackhawks' during the first period in Winnipeg, Tuesday. It was the Blackhawks first shot of the game, more than 17 minutes after the first period started.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Winnipeg Jets' goaltender Laurent Brossoit makes a blocker save on a shot by the Chicago Blackhawks' during the first period in Winnipeg, Tuesday. It was the Blackhawks first shot of the game, more than 17 minutes after the first period started.

Still, talk about a tale of two NHL teams headed in opposite directions.

The Jets, now second in the Central Division, are 19-9-2 and have won six of their last seven games. The Blackhawks (9-18-5) have lost eight straight, all in regulation time, and are last in the NHL standings.

Chicago is just 3-12-2 since Jeremy Colliton took over behind the bench after Joel Quenneville, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and the NHL’s longest-tenured head coach, was axed last month.

The aging group, still possessing star power with forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and defencemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook in uniform, displayed plenty of pride by making a game of it, just as the squad did Nov. 29 when the Jets led by three goals in the final period and held on for a 6-5 win.

With time and space, the aforementioned skaters and youngsters such as DeBrincat and Dylan Strome can make plays. Collectively, however, it's a team that lacks in so many areas that putting in a full 60-minute performance is a tough ask.

Chicago Blackhawks' Jan Rutta trips up Nikolaj Ehlers  in front of goaltender Cam Ward (30) whose stick goes flying after trying to knock the puck away during the second period Tuesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Chicago Blackhawks' Jan Rutta trips up Nikolaj Ehlers in front of goaltender Cam Ward (30) whose stick goes flying after trying to knock the puck away during the second period Tuesday.

"If I had it (reason) I would have fixed it already," said Colliton, on the team's slow start. "Compete harder early on. I thought we were late to almost every situation in the first period and they have a really good team. They pressure hard and they make a lot of plays. They play like men out there and we just couldn't match it in the beginning and we paid a price for it."

The Jets got power-play goals from Scheifele, with his 17th tally of the year, Connor and Mathieu Perreault. Tyler Myers and Brandon Tanev also scored for the winners while Dustin Byfuglien collected three assists on the night.

The hosts lost their focus for a spell in the second period, surrendering goals to Strome and Dominik Kahun as the Blackhawks rallied just before the midway point of the period.

"They have too much of a veteran presence in that locker room over there to deflate. I don’t think you’re going to see guys like Toews and Kane just give you a win, especially when you get up that early, that’s not expected," said Brossoit, now 6-1-1 this season after turned aside 32 shots. "You’re expecting a surge in the second period. They came and we weathered it just fine."

Winnipeg regained its focus and generated several good chances before the second period was up but its best shooters such as Laine and Ehlers were left shaking their heads after several remarkable saves by Ward. However, none was better than his glove stop with two minutes left to literally snag the hat-trick from Connor, stationed alone to the left of the Chicago cage.

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers lifts Mathieu Perreault as they celebrate Perreault's goal against the Chicago Blackhawks' during third period, Tuesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers lifts Mathieu Perreault as they celebrate Perreault's goal against the Chicago Blackhawks' during third period, Tuesday.

DeBrincat made it a one-goal game at 6:08 of the third period on a shot from a bad angle that Brossoit misplayed.

But Perreault fired the Jets' third power-play goal of the game — and sixth in two games — with just over eight minutes left to seal the victory. Winnipeg finished 3-for-5 with the man advantage, while the Blackhawks were 0-for-2.

"We know we have a good power play. It’s just a matter of executing. Lately we’ve been executing, so we just have to continue to focus on those fine details," said Scheifele. "You don’t want to see a lead dwindle like that. But we did a good job of responding. That power-play goal, toward the (end of the) third, was a big one. It just showed a lot of character."

Brossoit last played Dec. 1 when he stopped 36 shots as the Jets beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in overtime. Connor Hellebuyck had started four straight (3-1-0) since the game in Newark, and he's expected to return to the crease when the Jets wrap a four-game homestand against the surging Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. The Oilers are 7-1-0 in their past eight.

Winnipeg then heads directly to Chicago for a rematch with the Blackhawks at United Center on Friday.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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History

Updated on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 9:50 PM CST: Adds photos

9:55 PM: Adds photos, edits captions.

9:55 PM: Adds thumbnail image.

10:32 PM: Adds photo

10:45 PM: Updates headline

11:20 PM: Full write through

12:25 AM: Final edits.

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