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Connor scores winner as Jets top Sens

2015 first-round has three goals in preseason games

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick / WinnipegJets.com

HIGHLIGHTS | Jets 4, Senators 2

HIGHLIGHTS | Jets 4, Senators 2

A look back at all the big plays from the 4-2 preseason win over the Senators at MTS Centre

  • 03:02 •

WINNIPEG - Kyle Connor broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal midway through the third period to help the Jets to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators Monday at MTS Centre.

Nikolaj Ehlers added an empty-netter with 4.3 seconds to play. Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler had Winnipeg's other goals, while Michael Hutchinson made 27 saves in the victory.

The red-hot Jets power play has now struck for eight goals in the past three games.

Connor, who has now scored in each of his three preseason games, lifted a quick shot, up and under the bar from just a few feet out, showing great hands, deft touch and the precision of a player well beyond his years.

"Pretty impressive so far," Wheeler said of the 2015 first-round pick. "He's got that knack. He's able to find the seams. He's a great passer and he's a gifted goal scorer. … Not everyone's comfortable in those areas. That's just something you're born with. Clearly he's comfortable in those areas, and he's just as good of a passer as he is a threat to shoot, so it makes him pretty dangerous."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Head Coach Paul Maurice said that while Connor has impressed him and the rest of the coaching staff so far, some important questions remain.

"We've seen the speed and you saw that shot tonight. We're excited about this young man on those fronts," he said. "The other question is what all young players have to answer: How ready are they for the battles along the wall, (or) getting pucks out? It's almost like having a confidence not to make plays. … When a guy hits that peak level of confidence, they won't force anything."

The Jets reeled off nine of the first 11 shots of the game, but the Sens finished the period on a big run to take a 15-13 lead into the middle frame.

Senators forward Ryan Dzingel opened the scoring at 3:59 of the second period. After Mark Borowiecki's point shot drifted off target, Dzingel gathered up the rebound, circled the net and tucked home the wraparound past Hutchinson.

The Jets evened things up with a power-play marker at 10:49, as Nikolaj Ehlers made a sensational pass across the diamond to Mark Scheifele, who made no mistake on the tap-in. Scheifele now has six points (2G, 4A) in just two preseason games.

It was the first of two Jets PPGs on seven opportunities with the man advantage.

Unfortunately for Winnipeg, the Senators' power play was equally potent on this night. On a lengthy 5-on-3 late in the period, Tom Pyatt faked a cross-crease feed at the side of the net before stuffing a shot short side to put the visitors back in front with 3:45 to play.

Wheeler brought the game back on even terms with his first of the preseason at 19:55. After taking a pass from Dustin Byfuglien at the top of the left circle, the captain wound up and hammered home a slap shot, beating Ottawa goalie Andrew Hammond clean on the blocker side.

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

"I wouldn't assess our team game just yet. That's more for the next game (Thursday in Edmonton) when we get closer to our lineup," Maurice said. "Right now it's still about individuals trying to show that they can do so we can learn about them. Now we've probably made our assessment as to what they are as players and we'll start talking more about how the pieces fit."

News on that front is expected to come down tomorrow morning when the Jets reduce their training camp roster to a more manageable size. From this point forward, the club will hold only one ice time per day, a sign the regular season is fast approaching.

LATE HITS: Drew Stafford left the game late in the first period and did not return with an upper-body injury. While pursuing a loose puck near the Winnipeg bench, Stafford caught an edge and tumbled awkwardly to the ice. He did leave under his own power, but headed to straight to the locker room.

Maurice had an update following the game: "We'll get some tests done tomorrow, but I don't think it's overly significant so we'll call it day-to-day."

- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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