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Jets Play Brilliantly in Ottawa, Get Solid 5-1 Bounce Back Win Against Senators

Neal Pionk, who added an assist on the night, helped Winnipeg whip Ottawa on Saturday (Photo by Jordy Grossman)

Jets Play Brilliantly in Ottawa, Get Solid 5-1 Bounce Back Win Against Senators

Before Saturday night’s game in Ottawa, Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness challenged his best players to step up.

In two straight losses last week, the Jets scored only two goals — both by Kyle Connor  — and Bowness wanted more at both ends of the rink from his big guns.

And he definitely got what he was after,

Saturday night, the Jets what could have been a three-game losing streak by drilling the Ottawa Senators 5-1 at Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ont.

And who did the damage? The big guns. Mark Scheifele had two goals and an assist, Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and two assists and Cole Perfetti broke out of a prolonged slump to score his seventh of the season as the Jets led early and did not slow down for a single shift.

And during this tremendous performance by the Jets, two milestones were reached. Wheeler picked up his 900th career NHL point and Ehlers became the all-time leading Danish-born points getter in NHL history.

“We challenged them this morning because we needed a little bit more out of them,” Bowness told reporters in Ottawa. Obviously, they responded.”

Indeed they did.

Ehlers opened the scoring at 6:58 of the first period with a power play goal from Josh Morrissey and Scheifele. but Ottawa tied it at 11:12 on a goal by Josh Norris.

Bit that’s the last anyone heard of the Senators.

Scheifele scored his 27th of the season at the five minute mark of the second period to make it 2-1 (Kyle Connor and Nate Schmidt picked up the assists) and then Wheeler found himself right on the doorstep and beat Ottawa’s Anton Forsberg at 13:09 to put it away. It was Wheeler’s 12th of the season from Ehlers and Neal Pionk.

In the third period, Scheifele scored his 28th at 16:08 from Axel Johnsson-Fjallby and Wheeler to make it 4-1 and then Perfetti rounded out the scoring at 18:17 on the power play from Ehlers and Wheeler.

After 4-1 losses in Montreal and Toronto to start this five-game road trip, this was a perfect bounce back effort. With the win, the Jets improved to 30-16-1, just two points behind Dallas in the race for first in the Central Division. The Jets also became the first team in the West to win 30 games this season and they did it in their 47th game. Amazingly, the Jets didn’t win their 30th game last year until March 22, 2022 (their 64th game/30-24-10) when they beat Vegas 4-0.

After the game, Scheifele reflected on how the Jets turned everything around and play an almost perfect road game.

“No team wants to play in their D-zone for a long period of time and we had a few shifts where it felt like a minute, two minutes, of sustained pressure on them,” said Scheifele. “And we were rolling guys off the bench. It wasn’t just one line. Everyone was involved.”

The Jets outshot Ottawa 30-26 but won only 48 percent of the face-offs. They were also outhit 28-14. However, they went two-for-eight on the power play while Ottawa was zero-for-four as the Jets now have the second-best penalty killing unit in the NHL at 84.9 per cent. Only Boston is better.

The Jets power play is now seventh in the NHL at 24.7 per cent. What a huge improvement in both areas from the days of Paul Maurice.

The Jets continue this five-game road trip (now 1-2-0) in Philadelphia on Sunday night. The second game of this back-to-back goes at 6 p.m. CST on TSN3.

 

Covered his first junior hockey game for the Sarnia Observer in 1968. Covered his first Jets game for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1980. Still thinks hockey is the bees knees.

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