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Copp, special teams help Jets earn comeback win over Blackhawks

Jets get sixth victory when trailing through 40 minutes

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Have a night, Andrew Copp.

The 25-year-old centre was at the forefront of helping the Winnipeg Jets erase a 2-0 deficit to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night, assisting on a shorthanded marker from Kyle Connor to start the comeback before scoring the eventual game winner with 6:33 to go in regulation.

Add in a power play goal from Blake Wheeler and couple empty netters, and the Jets had a hard-earned, but crucial, 5-2 win over the Blackhawks.

"Special teams were real key to getting us back in the game," said Copp, who now has 10 goals on the season, one shy of his career-high of 11.

"Our power play got going last game. We know that unit has too much skill to be stagnant for too long. The PK has been doing great, chipping in a couple goals here and there. Tonight it was a big one."

Video: POSTGAME | Andrew Copp

Copp finished the night with 20:01 of ice time - the fifth time this season he's hit that mark - and six shots on goal.

Wheeler couldn't say enough about his teammate after the victory - which was Winnipeg's sixth when trailing after 40 minutes.

"He's a centreman. That's where he thrives. When he plays in the middle he tends to elevate his game," said Wheeler. "He's touching the puck a little bit more, it gives him a little more feel with the puck. He's worked on it a lot. He's one of those guys that has worked really hard on his game. He's starting to blossom a little bit into a 200-foot centre ice man that can make plays offensively."

But Copp, always the perfectionist, didn't feel like this was the best game of his career.

"Did you guys watch the first 15 seconds of the game?" Copp said with a grin.

That was in reference to Copp's line getting the start and being on the ice for Dominik Kubalik's game-opening goal just 15 seconds into the game, snapping Winnipeg's streak of six consecutive games of scoring first.

"You just try and get it the next shift and fight through some adversity," Copp said. "I feel like we've done both as a team and as a line, individually it's a strength of mine I think."

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

The tough start continued for the Jets when Brandon Saad drove to the front of the net, then capitalized on a centering pass from Patrick Kane to extend the Chicago lead to 2-0.

"That was the period I was expecting yesterday. We were off it by miles," said head coach Paul Maurice.

"You're hopeful that the seven or eight games prior have given you enough of a template that you know where to go.

"I thought right from the drop of the puck in the second period we looked like the team we've been."

The Jets (29-23-5) started the second period with a bit more jump and cut into Chicago's lead, despite being shorthanded.

Copp took advantage of a turnover and flew up the ice down the right side. Connor was in full flight and got a step on two Chicago back checkers. Copp flipped a perfect backhand saucer pass to Connor, who flipped it over Corey Crawford for his 27th of the season.

"I felt like (Chicago defenceman, Erik) Gustafsson was going to slide. Crawford is a big goalie. He comes out and he challenges you," Copp said, reflecting on the play. "I don't know if it was the best option, but it was the one that worked."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

It stayed that way until near the halfway mark of the third, when the Jets were awarded their fifth power play of the night. Wheeler took a Neal Pionk pass in the neutral zone and took off down the right wing side before snapping a quick wrist shot short side on Crawford.

The Jets captain's 17th of the season tied the game at two. It wasn't an easy night for Wheeler, who took a couple shots below the belt and got clipped in the face by the shoulder of Jonathan Toews (who was assessed an interference penalty on the play) late in the third period.

"I think Toews was trying to get position there. He was just trying to cut me off and take away my speed," said Wheeler. "He unfortunately caught me. I don't think there was any intent there."

Then with 6:33 to go in regulation time, at the end of a dominant offensive zone shift, Copp lifted his 10th of the season over Crawford's right shoulder giving the Jets their first lead of the game, 3-2.

"He's played so darn well in this stretch of hockey. The first period, he wouldn't like it. Then he found a way to get back," said Maurice.

"He made an incredible pass on that goal and a great goal in the finish. Right straight from the start of the second on, he was dominant again."

Video: HELMET PRES | Nathan Beaulieu

Patrik Laine potted an empty net goal, his ninth goal in his last nine games, before Connor added one of his own 63 seconds later to round out the scoring.

The Jets now have 63 points and are two points clear of the Arizona Coyotes in the Western Conference wildcard race. There is a long way to go, but the reward for playing the right way is a 4-0-1 point streak since the start of February.

"We finally have got it turned around a little bit to now," said Wheeler. "We're believing in that game a little bit. It's given us an opportunity to win every night and we're getting those results."

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