ANAHEIM, CA - He wasn't very busy but when called upon, Connor Hellebuyck came up big Friday afternoon at Honda Center.
Hellebuyck recorded his second shutout in three starts in Anaheim making 24 saves helping the Jets to a 3-0 victory Friday over the Ducks. The Michigan product is now one shutout away from tying Ondrej Pavelec for the franchise lead of 17. Even more impressive in the win was the fact the Jets played most of the day with five defenceman after losing Dmitry Kulikov to an upper body injury early in the game.
"Well they are definitely in shape we know that," laughed Hellebuyck when asked about the effort from his defencemen.
"They've been fantastic. Every single one of them, they battle so hard in front of our net. We've got real good chemistry going. My hats off to them, they're just playing fantastic."
Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck
Neal Pionk, Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor scored for Winnipeg who are now 10-4 on the road and have won seven of their last eight games away from Bell MTS Place.
It was a pretty quiet first period offensively but there were some fireworks, with an Anthony Bitetto-Eric Gudbranson scrap after the Jets defenceman stepped into Ondrej Kase in the neutral zone. Kase left for a bit and then returned.
A little bit later, Carter Rowney hit Kulikov hard along the left boards in the Jets end. Kulikov struggled for a bit and eventually got to the bench and headed towards the dressing room and left the game, so that meant heavy minutes for Josh Morrissey (25:51) and Pionk (25:06).
"I was talking to (assistant coach) Charlie Huddy, I like watching our defence play hockey because they play hard," said Paul Maurice.
"I mean they battle on every puck, finish checks, block shots. It's a little more of an old school (style) but that includes Pionk and Morrisey. A lot of really good kind of sweep ins or puck attacks at the line just to deny possession, they played great for us."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
The Jets started the second period with a man advantage and that's where they opened the scoring, Pionk one timed a Blake Wheeler pass into the top corner behind John Gibson at 1:08. It's the second consecutive game that the Jets scored a power play goal since Maurice loaded up the top power play unit. They finished the afternoon 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
"My mindset is get it to one of the best passers in the league in Blake Wheeler or get it to one of the best shooters in the league in Patrik Laine," said Pionk.
"But there is always stuff we can clean up. For myself tonight I didn't think my breakouts were great, I got to hit Scheif a bit better on the breakout but that's something we work on. We're working on it with the coaches and we'll watch video tomorrow and we'll get better tomorrow."
Video: POSTGAME | Neal Pionk
Winnipeg made it 2-0 at 9:13 off of some nice passing off an odd man rush, Wheeler found Ehlers coming from behind the net into the slot and Ehlers zipped a wrist shot in for his team leading 12th of the season. The Jets captain has six points in his last three games.
"I gave it to Josh (Morrissey) first and he gave it to me. I knew he wasn't in a good scoring area so good job by him to bump it right back," said Wheeler.
"I was looking at the net and I saw Nikky kind of stop up and give me a (passing) lane and I threw it over to him. Once he's right there that's a red zone for him and he lets it fly. He's pretty lethal in between the circles so great shot by him."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
Another quick goal from the visitors at the start of the third gave the Jets a three goal lead. Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor worked the give and go to perfection starting at the Ducks blue line, finally as Scheifele looked to be taking the puck behind the net he threw it out front to a wide open Connor to round out the scoring.
The Jets went a season-best 6-for-6 on the penalty kill on Wednesday and were a perfect 2-for-2 against the Ducks. They have given their opposition 13 power plays in their past three games after allowing 12 power plays in their previous four games.
The Jets have won five of their past six games against the Ducks and are 7-1-1 in their last nine contests against Anaheim.
Winnipeg will conclude their three game California road trip Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center at 9 pm CT.