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Connor, Ehlers score to help Jets to second straight win over Wild

Hellebuyck makes 28 saves, improves save percentage to 0.943

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

Video: POST GAME | JetsTV Road Report

ST. PAUL, MN - They didn't score seven, but two was enough on this night.

Following the high-scoring affair against the Pittsburgh Penguins two nights ago, the Winnipeg Jets skated to a 2-1 win over Central Division rival Minnesota Tuesday night.

Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers provided the offense for Winnipeg, while Luke Kunin answered for Minnesota.

The Jets have now won the first two of the four meetings they have with the Wild this season.

"It was another game that our best offense didn't get in behind them. It was a good road game," said head coach Paul Maurice. "I liked our game an awful lot until it got up to 2-1, and we were on our heels a little bit…. A solid game."

Video: POST GAME | Josh Morrissey

The Jets appeared to strike first on the power play 39 seconds in, but the officials ruled a loose puck off a wrist shot from Ehlers got to Joel Armia's stick as a result of a hand pass from Tyler Myers.

Less than seven minutes later, the Jets would make one count. Following some great work along the boards by Blake Wheeler, Dmitry Kulikov sent a cross-ice pass to Tyler Myers. Mark Scheifele deflected the point shot from Myers, and the puck bounced off the skate blade of Ryan Suter to Connor, who beat the outstretched leg of Stalock.

It was Connor's second goal and fifth point in six games since his recall from the Manitoba Moose.

"Kyle has done a real good job of becoming a readable player on the ice, which is hard sometimes as a young man, for your line mates to get that feel of consistency," said Maurice. "He's been good. When he's come in, he's had three really strong games in his start, and they've got a good chemistry."

Video: POST GAME | Connor Hellebuyck

The Jets penalty kill was on display in the second, keeping the Wild off the board on four power play chances. Wheeler and Scheifele each had shorthanded breakaways, but neither could convert - Scheifele struck iron on a wrist shot, Wheeler lost the handle in tight after faking to his backhand.

The Jets killed off all five Minnesota power plays in the win, and Maurice says the success begins in the crease.

"Especially the first save he makes, that's going to be the difference in your penalty kill and the confidence you have in it. We're still finding places to be aggressive in our own end," said Maurice.

"Our stands were good today at the line, and we did a really good job and created a couple breakaways off it."

Nikolaj Ehlers extended the lead to 2-0 just 43 seconds into the third when he jumped on a drop pass from Matt Dumba inside the Wild zone. After getting around a diving Mikael Granlund, cut in front of Stalock and beat him with a deke to his backhand.

Video: POST GAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

"I was looking to see what (Dumba) was going to do. I saw he looked back at Granlund, and I was hoping he was going to bump that puck," Ehlers said of his seventh of the season.

The Danish forward finished with 15:40 of ice time, including being on the ice late as the Wild poured on the pressure.

"It feels great that the coaching staff believes in me," he said. "I'm trying to go out there and make sure we don't get a goal against. It was good and it's nice to see that the hard work that I've been doing defensively has paid off."

The two-goal lead lasted for 4:53, before a forecheck from Eric Staal left a loose puck in the corner for Nino Niederreiter. His backhand pass in front found the tape of Luke Kunin, who beat Hellebuyck from the slot for his second of the season.

But after that, Hellebuyck shut the door, making a number of stops as the Wild peppered the Jets net with 12 shots in the third period. In total, the Jets netminder turned away 28 of the 29 shots he faced, improving his personal record to 6-0-1.

Video: POST GAME | Paul Maurice

"We kind of expected it. That's a good team over there, and we knew they were going to push right to the end," said Hellebuyck. "They got that one, and you could just tell they were carrying some momentum. The crowd got into it.

"That's the fun of the game, battling that out. I think it shows a lot of character in here."

At 6-3-2, the Jets finish the month of October with 14 of the 22 possible points, and head home for a two-game home stand that begins Thursday night against the Dallas Stars.

"What I like is the general theme. I've felt since the Columbus game at home, I think we're playing faster," said Maurice. "That is the style of game we have to play. We're moving the puck quicker, we're a little simpler through the neutral zone. I still think we can generate more shots and get more pucks to the net.

"We've been fortunate. We've had good goaltending. We're on the right side of the ledger."

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