ST. PAUL, MN – Matt Dumba and Nino Niederreiter combined for seven points, while nine others had at least one Sunday as the Minnesota Wild defeated the Winnipeg Jets 8-1 in exhibition play at Xcel Energy Center.
Dumba (2), Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Jonas Brodin had the goals, while Devan Dubnyk was good between the pipes, recording 18 saves in the win.
Michael Hutchinson was victimized for six goals on 18 shots in a little more than 30 minutes of work. Connor Hellebuyck played the final 29:44, stopping 10 of 12.
Mathieu Perreault broke the shutout late in the third period with a nice shot to the shelf.
The Wild dressed a more veteran lineup while the Jets were giving one last look to a number of rookies fighting for jobs, but Mark Scheifele isn’t using that as an excuse.
“It shouldn’t [affect what you do],” he said. “You could tell there was a little intimidation there, but it should be one of those things where you relish the opportunity to see how you match up with guys like Parise, Koivu. Personally, I try to take it as a challenge and play tough minutes against those guys.”
The Jets were under assault for much of the night, surrendering four goals in the first, another three in the second and one in the third after having a tough time escaping the defensive zone.
Still, Head Coach Paul Maurice learned plenty, even though the game wasn’t as competitive as he would have liked.
“You can probably get a better [evaluation] in some ways,” he said. “With some adversity, it gets real quiet on the bench. When things go bad on you, you have a tendency to revert on poor habits. Some did, some didn’t. It’s all part of it.”
The Wild opened the scoring three-and-a-minute minutes in as Niederreiter redirected Koivu’s 45-foot point blast through the wickets of Hutchinson.
“It was a tough way to start out,” defenceman Josh Morrissey said. “An early one is never a good thing and to be down 4-0 (after the first period) is always tough. We didn’t give our goalies a lot of help out there, but we did battle and that’s all you can do in a game like that.”
The home team went up by two at the tail end of a power-play midway through the first period. With one second left in a Mathieu Perreault penalty (holding the stick), Coyle easily converted a cross-crease feed from Jonas Brodin, slapping a one-time shot short side on Hutchinson, who had little to no chance on the play.
The Wild took a 3-0 lead at 13:26. After summoning a strong shift from Adam Lowry and Nikolaj Ehlers, the Jets looked on as the puck turned back the other way. Granlund was the beneficiary this time, easily finishing off a 2-on-1 with Jason Pominville as he rifled a shot upstairs on Hutchinson for the three-nil tally.
Dumba rounded out the scoring, pouncing on a loose puck between the dots and hammering it through a crowd to make it 4-0 late in the first period.
Shots on goal favoured the Wild 13-4 after one period of play. Following the 18-minute intermission, the Jets were back on their heels early in the second.
Koivu put the Wild up 5-0 at 4:29 as he sifted a long shot through traffic, beating Hutchinson along the ice on the far side.
The Jets had a glorious chance to get on the board shortly thereafter, but Granlund and Nate Prosser off serving separate infractions, the visitors were unable to generate much on the extended 5-on-3 advantage.
Moments later, the Wild extended to a 6-0 lead as Parise’s wrister from the half wall pinballed in off a defender.
That was the end of the night for Hutchinson, who allowed six goals on 18 shots.
Hellebucyk’s first test was a Minnesota power-play, where Dumba powered a one-time shot through a maze for the 7-0 goal. Brodin rounded out the scoring 9:07 of the third, cleanly beating Hellebuyck with a rocket from the point.
Perreault found the net with seven-and-a-half to play, neatly converted a feed from Anthony Peluso.
“The bounces didn’t go our way tonight, but we obviously have a lot more in us and in that third period we showed a lot of compete,” Morrissey said.
The Jets are back on action on Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com