WINNIPEG - Monday night showed what a little rest can do.
Playing their first game with two nights of rest in nearly a month, the Winnipeg Jets took the lead 2:10 into the game and never gave it up, as they beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Monday night to take over sole possession of second place in the North Division.
"It's more mental than physical," Andrew Copp said about the benefit of the extra day of rest. "It's a full day of routine or prep, whatever you want to call it. Just another day to try and just relax and enjoy your day a little bit more than trying to gear up for another game."
The Jets (23-13-3) were certainly geared up for this one. They outshot the Senators 46-23, including 22-6 in the middle frame, where they extended a 1-0 lead into a 4-1 cushion.
Ottawa made it interesting in the final 10 minutes of regulation, but the Jets held on.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice to give him his second multi-goal game in a Jets jersey, while Andrew Copp and Nikolaj Ehlers both had two assists in the victory.
"We had the right mentality offensively. We didn't spend much time in our zone in the first two periods, or even in the third for a good chunk of that period," said Dubois, adding that holding on for the win, despite Ottawa's push, is what matters.
"Obviously it's not how you want it to go, it's not how you script it," Dubois said. "It's never going to be easy. You have to deal with adversity because stuff like that is going to happen as the season goes on."
Video: OTT@WPG: Wheeler sets up Dubois for 1-0 lead in 1st
Winnipeg had their skating legs early, and it paid off. The home side hemmed the Senators in their own end for much of the opening couple minutes, resulting in Blake Wheeler finding Dubois in the right circle for the game's opening tally. Dubois' eighth of the season was a quick release from that spot, capping off some strong work below the goal line from the Jets captain.
The power move Wheeler used seconds before the goal, shaking a check then finding his open passing option, is something Maurice thinks Dubois is capable of doing as well.
"With his size and his strength, he can control the puck like that," said Maurice. "I don't think that's necessarily been a part of his game because it's not for most of those young players. Kyle Connor does that now, and he never did that when he first came in the league. Take a guy one-on-one, understand his speed and how to use it. Pierre-Luc is going to learn that from Blake."
The Jets built on that lead in the second. A turnover, forced by the work of Copp and Mason Appleton, led to the Jets regaining possession deep in Ottawa territory. Copp found Lowry joining the play late, and he made no mistake for his eighth of the campaign, beating Anton Forsberg with a laser into the top corner.
Video: OTT@WPG: Lowry gives Jets a 2-0 lead in the 2nd
The assist gave Copp 29 points on the season, establishing a new career high for the 26-year-old. His previous best was 28, set in the 2017-18 season.
"It feels good that you're kind of getting rewarded for all the hard work and you know you're doing the right things and heading in the right direction," said Copp. "But you never arrive, you're always wanting to get that much better. There are always opportunities in the game for you to create more, make one more play, make one more pass, put one in the net. There is always more."
After Ottawa's Ryan Dzingel scored 29 seconds after the Jets made it 2-0, Copp found a way to make "one more pass."
Video: OTT@WPG: Dubois fires one-timer for 3-1 lead in 2nd
Copp spotted Dubois open on the right flank as the final seconds of Winnipeg's first power play ticked down. Dubois capitalized on a cross-ice pass from Copp to restore the two-goal cushion for the Jets.
"Before coming here, I'd seen pretty much every position on the power play so I've never had time to adjust to a position, to get familiar, to get good reads," said Dubois.
"I've been on that half wall since I've been here. I'm getting more comfortable. I'm doing video with (assistant coach) Jamie (Kompon), talking to the guys - (Pionk, Ehlers, Copp, and Perreault) - but I'm getting more comfortable."
Kyle Connor increased the Jets lead to three when his attempted pass off the rush went off the stick of Chris Tierney and slipped between the legs of Forsberg, giving Connor his team-leading 18th goal of the season.
The Jets outshot Ottawa 22-6 in the middle frame.
It was all a by-product of a little bit of extra rest.
"I thought we had better jump," said Maurice. "I thought we executed better. We were faster. We looked like we had a couple days off and we needed it."
Video: OTT@WPG: Connor scores with deflection off defender
Josh Norris pulled the Senators back within a couple with his ninth of the season, a power play marker with 9:35 to go in regulation. Connor Brown then made it a one-goal game with 3:09 left on the clock to add some stress to the final minutes, but the Jets held on for the 4-3 victory.
"I didn't feel that we were under siege. They're going to push, they'll pull their goalie, they'll do those kind of things," said Maurice.
"People will walk away from that and say, 'You've got a 4-1 lead against Ottawa, you should be able to hold that lead.' I didn't feel we changed our game. I've got way more respect for Ottawa than most people do. That might be why we're 5-1 on them."
The Jets now head on the road for five games beginning Thursday night in Montreal.