SAN JOSE, CA - The Winnipeg Jets were not going to allow 50-plus shots in their return to Northern California.
The Jets gave Connor Hellebuyck a little offence in the second meeting with the Sharks this month. They gave up the game's first goal and then scored five unanswered, leading to a 5-1 win on Wednesday night.
Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Jack Roslovic, and Kyle Connor scored for the Jets, with David Gustafsson adding his first NHL goal in the win, which improved the Jets to 15-9-1 on the season. Hellebuyck made 32 saves for his 12th win of the campaign.
"We played well. I think we were a lot quicker than we were the last time we were in here," said Blake Wheeler who had two assists.
"We were on pucks, quick sticks, moving our feet and we were able to make some plays."
The Sharks would open the scoring at 9:28 of the first. Joe Thornton casually flipped a puck from the San Jose blueline that landed perfectly behind Anthony Bitetto and Melker Karlsson skated in on a breakaway and beat Hellebuyck high on the glove side.
Winnipeg would get that back with their second man advantage of the opening frame, when Wheeler sent a perfect saucer pass cross ice to Laine at 13:15. Tonight marked the first time that Maurice loaded up the top unit since the injury to Bryan Little back on November 3. The Jets went 1-for-3 with numerous good looks against the league's best penalty kill unit.
Video: WPG@SJS: Laine one-times cross-ice feed for PPG
"It's going to be there," said Wheeler of the pass he set Laine up with.
"Ultimately that's going to be our power play and we're just going to keep working on it. Keep growing and when it's going you can't stop it, too many options."
Just under five minutes later, Gustafsson deked around Erik Karlsson in the neutral zone and then fired a high wrister that Dell got a piece of with his glove but not enough. Winnipeg carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission as the young Swede recorded his first NHL goal and point in his 18th career game.
Video: WPG@SJS: Gustafsson scores first career NHL goal
"I think you can almost see it after the goal I get really surprised. It was nice," said Gustafsson.
"I thought the first goal was going to be a puck bouncing in or something but this was a nice goal so I'm happy about it."
Just 3:29 into the middle period the Jets took a two-goal lead. Connor spotted a wide open Scheifele in the low slot and he one timed home his ninth of the season.
The Jets made it 4-1 at 14:01, after killing off a Jack Roslovic roughing penalty .Winnipeg broke out on a three-on-one with Wheeler getting off the initial shot on Dell. Roslovic followed up and scored on the rebound and that really silenced the SAP Center. It was a big night for the Jets penalty kill as they shut down six Sharks man advantages after giving up three power play goals on Saturday to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"You go from potentially 3-2 to 4-1 that's a big shift," said Paul Maurice.
"I like that line again; Blake's line has been really good for a bunch of games now."
Roslovic had a chance to make it 5-1 in the third period when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by Brendan Dillon. The Jets forward shot went wide of the net to keep it a three goal game.
"I kind of laughed about it," said Roslovic when asked if he wasn't thrilled with how his shot missed.
"You know professionals mess up too sometimes so I just fanned on it."
Winnipeg did get to 5-1 thanks to an empty net goal from Connor at 14:47.
They now have points in six of their past seven games (5-1-1) against the Sharks after losing the previous four meetings. Winnipeg has not lost back to back games on the road yet this season.
The Jets will continue their road trip on Friday when they take on the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center at 3 pm CT.