The Winnipeg Ice entered Wednesday's game against the Moose Jaw Warriors with an division-leading 20 power-play goals in 13 games.
Three power-play goals later, the Ice had a 6-3 victory — the club's fourth consecutive win at the WHL East Division hub in Regina.
Veteran chemistry generated by Connor McClennon, Owen Pederson, Jakin Smallwood and Peyton Krebs has been essential to the club's success on special teams.
"We all have our spots but I think just reading off each other (well), whether I'm net front and Pedey is on the flank...," said McClennon in a post-game Zoom call from the Brandt Centre. "I think we're just filling positions and then getting into our set, that's been the biggest part and then getting pucks to the net. I think when we're not having success, we're trying to be too perimeter."
With his defence corps decimated by injuries to four regulars, Ice head coach James Patrick pressed Krebs, a centre, into service as a blue-liner during Tuesday's 3-2 overtime win over the Saskatoon Blades and again Wednesday against the Warriors.
The transition for the 20-year-old captain has been remarkable.
"He slipped back there and he's been a rock for us being short-handed," said McClennon. "He looks like he's a natural back there and he can do both, so it's a good little add-on to the already good little script he's got going on here this year."
Krebs, who has registered at least a point in 13 consecutive games, had a goal and three assists to vault into top spot in the league's scoring race with 27 points.
"He can skate with anyone — backwards, forwards," said McClennon. "He works so hard. I think just caring and being so passionate as he is and not letting anyone win a battle against him... is something that he takes a lot of pride in."
Winnipeg scored four times in a span of 4:10 in the opening period, including power-play markers by Krebs and McClennon and 5-on-5 goals by Zach Benson and Cole Muir, to open a big lead.
But any designs the Ice had on a blowout were snuffed out later in the first period with Moose Jaw goals by Jagger Firkas and Denton Mateychuk. It was the second of the season for Mateychuk, a 16-year-old rookie defender from Dominion City.
Atley Calvert scored with less than two minutes remaining in the middle period, making it 4-3, but that was as close as Moose Jaw would get.
In the third period, Smallwood, with his team-leading 10th, and an empty-netter by McClennon, his eighth, put the game out of reach.
The Ice improved to 10-4-0-0 and a tie for second in the East with the Saskatoon Blades, one point back of the front-running Brandon Wheat Kings.
The fourth-place Warriors fell to 6-7-1-0.
Next up for Winnipeg is a Saturday game in the hub against the Prince Albert Raiders. Game time is 5 p.m.
The Ice returns to the Brandt Centre on Monday for a matchup with the Regina Pats.
BLUE-LINES: Gage Alexander made 33 saves in the Winnipeg net. Moose Jaw goaltender Brett Mirwald had 25 stops... Winnipeg went 3-for-3 on the power-play. Moose Jaw was 1-for-4... The Ice were without defencemen Karter Prosofsky (upper body), Mike Ladyman (upper body), Nolan Orzeck (lower body) and Carson Lambos (unspecified). Left-winger Rhys Raeside was also sidelined... Three stars: 1. Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg (one goal, three assists); 2. Jagger Firkus, Moose Jaw (one goal); 3. Connor McClennon, Winnipeg (two goals, one assist).
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.