The Winnipeg Jets have figured it out. On Thursday evening the Jets found out that to win a game, you don’t need to fall behind by two goals and somehow pull it off in overtime – as had been the theme in Winnipeg’s first two victories of the season. So on Thursday on the road against the Ottawa Senators, the boys in white and blue followed a new mantra: Score first, and score often. They did so by way of 4-1 victory in the second of three-straight games against the same opponent.
For the first time all season, the Jets found themselves holding a lead in a game. After going 2-1-0 through the team’s first three games, Winnipeg actually never had a lead, yet picked up four of six possible points. Earning both its wins in overtime, the Jets had trailed in all facets of each of those two wins (Calgary on Thursday, Ottawa on Tuesday) except at the game’s final whistle. Winnipeg also lost to Toronto – another game in which it did not hold a lead.
So, on Thursday, the Jets opted to change that strange statistic. And it took all of 11:50 of the first period. Coming off a come-from-behind overtime victory on a goal off the stick of Nikolaj Ehlers, the Jets’ speedy winger stayed hot on Thursday. Midway through the first period, Ehlers collected an offensive zone drop pass from Andrew Copp and ripped a long-range wrist shot past Matt Murray five-hole, giving Winnipeg its first lead of the season.
Despite trailing 11-10 in the shot department through 20 minutes, the visitors held on to their first lead and watched as things only got better as the game progressed.
The second period saw Winnipeg find three more goals and outshoot Ottawa 16-8 in the frame, to finish the period ahead 4-0 and 26-19 in the shot department. The goals came off the sticks of Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry and Blake Wheeler.
Scheifele finished off a crispt passing play on the tail end of a Matt Murray turnover just 4:22 into the frame. Then 2:43 later, Trevor Lewis earned his first point as a member of the Jets, finding the post on a breakaway before Lowry put the rebound past Murray and into the open net. And with his secondary assist on the goal, fellow newcomer Derek Forbort earned his third assist of the season, which gave him more points than he had in all of 2019-20.
Kyle Connor, Scheifele and Wheeler then teamed up for a pretty marker with 6:05 left in the second period. That goal pretty much sealed the deal for Winnipeg, with Ottawa opting to yank Murray for the third period, giving Marcus Hogberg the net for the final frame.
Other than some late-period fisticuffs, the third period didn’t provide much in the form of entertainment. Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets did give up the potential shutout, in allowing Ottawa a goal with 2:57 to play, on Chris Tierney deflection off a Nikita Zaitsev shot.
Disappointing for Winnipeg was the team’s efficiency on the power play, going 0-7 on the night. Hellebuyck, who was visibly frustrated after allowing the late-game goal to break his shutout streak, stopped 28 of 29 Senators shots on the evening to pick up his 150th career NHL win. Winnipeg also lost forward Nate Thompson in the second period to a lower-body injury. He did not return.
The 3-1-0 Jets will wrap up this best-of-three mini series with the Senators on Saturday at home in a 9:00 PM central showdown with Ottawa at Bell MTS Place. Saturday’s game begins a season-long seven-game homestand that sees the Edmonton Oilers also roll into town on Sunday evening. Both Saturday and Sunday’s contests can be seen live on Sportsnet.