The Winnipeg Jets relied on solid goaltending, a strong performance from their top line and some physicality in a testy come-from-behind 5-1 victory of the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center Wednesday.
Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 22 of 23 shots, Patrik Laine had a goal and two assists, while captain Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had two-point nights for Winnipeg in the first test of a three-game road trip through California.
The Jets fell behind early, giving up the first goal of the game to Melker Karlsson at the midway point of the first period on a partial breakaway following some sloppy neutral zone play. Despite jumping ahead early, Karlsson’s second marker of the season was the only goal that the home team would collect.
With Timo Meier in the box for tripping Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine found his seventh tally of the season and his first career goal against the Sharks on a one-timer from a great cross-ice, power play feed from Wheeler. Rookie forward David Gustafsson potted his first career NHL goal with two minutes to play on a seemingly innocent looking shot on a rush up ice. The long wrist shot fooled netminder Aaron Dell, giving Winnipeg a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes of play.
Three minutes into the second period Mark Scheifele finished off a pretty cycle play behind the Sharks’ net, as Laine dished the puck to Connor, who found Scheifele all alone in the slot. He buried his ninth goal of the season on a read-and-react style play.
After coming out of the box following a successful team kill, Jack Roslovic jumped in on a Jets’ odd-man rush up ice and buried a Blake Wheeler rebound, giving Winnipeg a 4-1 lead with six minutes to play in the second period. Despite their greatest effort to get the Jets penalized, the Sharks were unable to sucker Winnipeg into taking much more than roughing minors.
Connor matched Scheifele with his ninth tally of the season on a half-ice empty-net marker with just over five minutes to play, as the Sharks attempted to mount a comeback with Dell on the bench for an extra attacker during an offensive zone opportunity.
Dell turned aside 28 of 32 shots he faced, while Hellebuyck stopped all but one of San Jose’s 23 shots. The Jets will now travel to Anaheim for an afternoon Thanksgiving matchup with the Ducks Friday, before heading to Los Angeles for a late night contest with the Kings on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 3:00 PM central Friday and the game can be viewed live on TSN3.