Coming off a stretch in which Winnipeg played seven-straight games against teams sitting within playoff contention, and with that postseason on the near horizon, the Jets have seemingly found their step.
After significant one-goal home victories against the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, Winnipeg took its show on the road to California, taking on Kings late Monday evening. Three of the game’s five goals came in the opening period, while no scoring occurred in the final frame.
The Ehlers-Hayes-Connor line struck first, with all three forwards chipping in offensively, as Kyle Connor picked up a Nik Ehlers offering, taking it hard around the net, before throwing the puck towards the crease. Kevin Hayes jammed at the rebound, potting the Jets’ first goal of the game, just eight minutes in.
Connor then scored from nearly the exact same place on the ice that Hayes had earlier struck, banking in a rebound of his own, following a Jacob Trouba power play point shot. Jets’ captain Blake Wheeler picked up the second assist of the scoring play, bringing his season total to 68 helpers – matching his career high set in 81 games last season. Wheeler is also just four points shy of a new career high (91 in 2018-19).
Los Angeles got on the board later in the first period, as Winnipegger Brendan Leipsic found defeneman Sean Walker from behind the net, and the blueliner buried his third of the season past backup netminder Laurent Brossoit. The Kings then tied the game at twos midway through the second period, as a Dustin Brown wrist shot also found its way through the Jets’ backstop.
Immediately after shorthanded goalmouth scramble, Tyler Myers collected a loose puck in the Jets’ end and was joined on a two-on-one rush up ice by Patrik Laine straight from the penalty box. The big defenceman kept the puck and first a hard wrist shot past netminder Jack Campbell, scoring the final goal of the game with three minutes to play in the second period.
The Jets beat the Kings 28-17 in the shot department, with Brossoit stopping 15 of the 17 pucks fired his way.
Winnipeg has now improved to 43-25-4, and has won seven of its nine games in the month of January, losing to San Jose with four seconds remaining last week, after suffering a tune up at the hands of the Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning on the March 5th.
The Jets also extended their lead over the dormant Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues Monday, pulling a full three points clear of Nashville with one game in hand, while staying eight points up on the Blues. Winnipeg continues its western road trip with stops in Anaheim and Vegas on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Puck drops for both games are set for 9:00 PM central, and the games can be viewed live on TSN3.