The Winnipeg Jets struck first, then let the competition back into the game, before exploding for four more goals off the stick of captain Blake Wheeler’s stick, propelling the Canadians to a 5-2 road victory Sunday at Nationwide Arena.
Sami Niku got things going just over two minutes into the game on a long, seeing-eye point shot that found its way through Columbus’ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, giving the Jets a 1-0 lead. Nick Foligno responded for the home team midway through the frame, before Blake Wheeler potted his 14th goal of the season just 35 seconds into the second period.
Once again the Blue Jackets responded to Winnipeg’s go-ahead marker. This time the second period tying goal came in the form of a one-time howitzer off the stick of Seth Jones with just under two-and-a-half minutes to go in the middle stanza. Following a great setup play by Zach Werenski and Artemi Panarin, Jones stepped into a one-time that ripped past Connor Hellebuyck and in and out of the Jets’ net in a matter of milliseconds.
Through 40 minutes, the home team held a 26-18 advantage in the shot department, while maintaining a tie game with the NHL’s current Central Division leader Winnipeg. The third period was a complete different story, as the Jets’ captain took over the game – at least on the scoresheet, that is.
After scoring his first of the game on a deflection, the 32-year-old redirected a Nathan Beaulieu point shot past Bobrovsky for his 15th of the season eight minutes into the final period of play. Ten minutes later the NHL vet found some puck luck as his shot off of a Patrik Laine cross-ice pass bounced off Bobrovsky’s pad before deflecting off the post and in, securing his third-career hat trick, while handing the Jets a two-goal cushion.
With Bobrovsky on the bench for the extra attacker, Mark Scheifele found his linemate wide open up ice, who made no mistake evading an Artemi Panarin thrown stick, before putting his fourth goal of the game into the empty net, finishing off the Blue Jackets 5-2 late Sunday night.
Columbus finished the game with 42 shots on net – 40 of which that Connor Hellebuyck stopped. While Bobrovsky gave up four goals on just 26 Winnipeg shots Sunday. The Jets will look to remain in the win column as they continue a tough road trip through Tampa Bay, Carolina and Washington this coming week. Puck drop at Amalie Arena in Florida is set for 6:30 PM central Tuesday. The game can be viewed on TSN3.