NEWARK, New Jersey - With Mark Scheifele out of the line-up - adding to a list of injuries already affecting the roster - the Winnipeg Jets depth would be tested again in New Jersey against the Devils.
Consider that test passed.
Patrik Laine, Joel Armia, and Nikolaj Ehlers scored, while Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves to preserve a late lead, as the Jets handed the Devils a 3-2 loss.
Video: POSTGAME | JetsTV Road Report
It was the fourth consecutive win for the Jets, who improved to 41-17-9. In the process, they also became to the team to snap Taylor Hall's personal 26-game point streak.
"Tonight we had some damn good goaltending," said head coach Paul Maurice. "I think a lot of nights we've given our goaltender a chance that he didn't have to make a lot of special saves. But he found some pucks in traffic. They threw a lot at the net. That's the way they play.
"We got some pretty good saves here tonight. Connor was good."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
It was also a significant night for Hellebuyck, as his 35th victory of the season set a new franchise record for wins in a season by a goaltender.
"Having my name up there is going to be pretty cool. It's a big milestone in my career. I'm going to enjoy it, continue on, and keep pushing the pace," said Hellebuyck.
"I thought we played a good game. We grinder hard. We stayed with it right until the end. We're going to have some games like this. This felt like a playoff game. It was good that we were able to come out on top and grind right until the end."
Video: WPG@NJD: Laine snaps loose puck past Schneider
Even with all the line shuffling, one thing remained constant in the early going - Patrik Laine lighting the lamp.
The 39th of the season for the Finnish sniper came just 4:12 into the first period. Ehlers gained the zone off and sent the puck toward the net. The puck deflected off Sami Vatanen, who wasa engaged with Paul Stastny in front, but Laine found the loose puck in tight on Cory Schneider, and beat the Devils goaltender five hole.
The 19-year-old is now second in the NHL in goals, and is tied with Sidney Crosby win goals by a teenager (75). But in Maurice's mind, it was Laine's play, along with his line mates Stastny and Ehlers defensively that shows the progress in the young wingers' games.
"Patrik is a brilliant shooter and he's going to score an awful lot of goals to get to the level we think he can get to. It was the third period play that I liked even more than the goal in the first," said Maurice.
"That's an area of growth. That's why I had them on the ice as a line with the goaltender out. Those two guys have to play in those situations and they earned the right to be on their at the end by the way they played in the third."
Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers
In the second, another Finn would put the Jets up 2-0. Armia took a stretch pass from Ben Chiarot just outside the New Jersey zone, and cut to the middle of the ice. From the high slot, Armia let a wrist shot fly that beat Schneider high on the glove side for his 11th of the season.
But the Devils would get on the board shortly after. Kyle Palmieri took a long pass from Nico Hischier at the Jets blue line, and was in all alone on Connor Hellebuyck. Palmieri went high glove for his 18th of the season, and eighth point in his last four games.
Ehlers would get rewarded for a strong play in the defensive zone midway through the third. The winger made a play along the boards to start a breakout, and after setting Byfuglien up for a one-timer at the other end that hit the post, number 27 was there to gather the rebound in his feet, then poke home the rebound for his 26th of the campaign, a new career high.
Video: WPG@NJD: Ehlers kicks puck to stick, buries rebound
"That's why we play soccer before the game. It was a great shot by Buff, and it just hit my skate, and I tried to kick it forward so I could put it in," said Ehlers.
"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. They have a lot of speed and a lot of skill. But we've got that too. We needed to play hard, play faster than they did, and put pressure on their D. We did that pretty well."
New Jersey would get back within one just 1:12 later, as Hischier poked home a loose puck during a scramble around Hellebuyck.
Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck
That's as close as New Jersey would get, as Hellebuyck shut the door to preserve the win, which gives the Jets six of a possible six points halfway through the season-long six-game road trip.
"Connor is kind of the other kid. We don't talk about the defensive guys, but Connor went through some real growing pains last year," said Maurice. "They were necessary. He needed to play the number of games, and mentally go through what he went through.
"Then spend the summer driven by last season. It's great he gets the pay off for the hard work he did this summer. He's been very good for our team."
Dmitry Kulikov didn't finish the game, leaving in the third period with an upper-body injury.
Maurice says the injury is "nothing sinister" and lists the defenceman as day-to-day.