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Hellebuyck sensational in Jets win over Sharks

Jets goaltender finishes with 51 saves, Ehlers scores late game-winner

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

SAN JOSE - Even though Nikolaj Ehlers was the one who scored the game-winner with 1:24 to go in regulation, Connor Hellebuyck was all anyone wanted to talk about after the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Hellebuyck made a personal best 51 saves - with 27 of them coming in the second period - to help the Jets improve their record to 7-7-0.

"He's had a history of having a night he didn't like, coming back, and being just about unbeatable," said head coach Paul Maurice.

"It's probably the only story of the game. Those are traffic shots. There is so much hard work that goes into what he did tonight - fighting to see pucks, moving when you're on the ice and there's nothing but legs and sticks flying.

"He was fantastic."

Video: WPG@SJS: Hellebuyck denies Dillon's pair of chances

After being pulled just a few nights ago in Anaheim, Hellebuyck wanted to bounce back for his team in his next start.

He did that and then some.

"Anytime you get pulled you want to answer for it," said Hellebuyck. "That being said, I liked my game last game, it just didn't go for me. This was the result of the pucks going my way."

The final shot total read 53-19 in favour of the home side, but it was Winnipeg's 19th - off the stick of Ehlers - that proved to be pivotal.

Jack Roslovic held off Sharks defenceman Brent Burns in the corner, spinning and turning to try and create space. When he did, he slipped a pass to Ehlers in the slot. He wasted no time and hammered his seventh of the season into the back of the net with less than 90 seconds left in regulation.

"In the third period we did a lot of standing and watching them shoot it. I suppose that takes a toll after a while," said Wheeler. "We got a few o-zone shifts there in the third. We've got some skill, if we've got time and space. We made a nice play."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

It was Winnipeg that opened the scoring in this one, with Gabriel Bourque getting his first as a Jet.

Kyle Connor forced a turnover in the San Jose zone, then fed a wide-open Bourque joining the play after a line change. From the high slot, Bourque fired a wrist shot over the glove of Martin Jones to give Winnipeg the lead. 

San Jose answered back 3:18 into the second, when Marc-Edouard Vlasic hit Jonny Brodzinski with a stretch pass on the left wing. Brodzinski then played an area pass to Barclay Goodrow who one-timed it past Hellebuyck on the stick side.

"There was a stretch there where I was burning a little bit, but the guys allowed me to see things," said Hellebuyck. "We scored three, so they did their job and I did my job."

Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck

It looked as though the Sharks had taken the lead when Evander Kane flipped a rebound over Hellebuyck's pad on a goalmouth scramble. Maurice's challenge for goaltender interference kept the goal off the board.

That proved huge for the Jets, who came right back the following shift, with Blake Wheeler taking a nice pass from Mark Scheifele off the rush, outwaiting a sprawling Martin Jones, and burying his fifth of the season.

Just like that, it was 2-1 Jets.

"We caught a break there obviously. Those ones seem to go against us more than for us," said Wheeler. "That was nice to win one of those challenges. It gives you a little bit of new life to go from down 2-1, to all of a sudden it's a tie game, then you pop one right after. It was a good change of momentum for us."

It stayed that way until 49 seconds into the third, when Tomas Hertl tipped home a one-timer from Kane during a delayed penalty to the Jets.

San Jose kept peppering the Jets goaltender with shots in the final 20 minutes, but Hertl would be the last Shark to put one by Hellebuyck on this night.

It reminded Hellebuyck of a similar performance he had during his American Hockey League days.

"That was a 50-save shutout. That one is up there too. This one is definitely going to be up there," said Hellebuyck. "I'll definitely remember this one. This will be a record for a while. I'll cherish this one then move on."

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