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Jets finish perfect home stand with win over Devils

Five Jets finish with two points; Hellebuyck makes 34 saves

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - All the Winnipeg Jets offence needed was 3:50 to break open an up-tempo, back-and-forth matinee affair against the New Jersey Devils.

The Jets (12-4-3) scored four times in that span in the second period, paving the way to a 5-2 win - the team's fourth in a row - and a three-game home stand that finished with three victories.

"I thought they were really good in the first. We got a little bit quicker, and kind of settled into the game. It was one of those games that everyone needed to be good at one point or another," said head coach Paul Maurice.

"Connor Hellebuyck was really good in the first and made a couple of good saves to keep it at zero. Our penalty kill was really important in the second as well, and got the offence going as well - all four lines in on the game.

"Everybody had a piece in that one."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

After a scoreless first period, where the Devils (11-5-3) held the edge in shots (13-11), and shot attempts (24-22), the Jets offensive burst began just six minutes into the second.

Kyle Connor worked to get to the front of the net, and that effort paid off. His fifth of the season came when Blake Wheeler's shot from the right wing circle was stopped by Cory Schneider, but Connor was right there to bang home the rebound.

"It's definitely something I've been working on, just going to the hard areas and coming up with all those puck battles. It makes such a difference," said Connor.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge. They're a quick team, and they're playing pretty well right now, and we stepped up to that."

Video: POSTGAME | Jacob Trouba

The lead didn't last long though, as Brian Gibbons rifled a wrist shot that bounced off the camera in the top of the net and came right out. It took a video review, but officials determined Gibbons had scored his third of the season, just 61 seconds after the Jets had taken the lead.

"I knew that was in. I might have got a little deep on that one…I kind of know it's either going in or its hitting crossbar. I didn't hear the crossbar. So it was a good shot by him," said Hellebuyck, who liked how his team responded immediately after the goal was scored.

"I think that's the character in this room. We don't get deterred from a goal against. We get motivated, and then we get our crowd into it, and we use that momentum."

Just 1:14 later, the Jets took the lead back. Nikolaj Ehlers let a wrist shot go from the top of the circle that changed direction off Patrik Laine right in front of Schneider.

Video: POSTGAME | Kyle Connor

It was Laine's 10th of the season, and extended his career long point streak to nine games.

Two former Michigan Wolverines would team up for the next Jets marker 35 seconds later. Connor drew two Devils defenders to him, then made a great pass to a Jacob Trouba who joined the rush, took the Connor feed, and sent a wrist shot short side on Schneider for his first of the campaign, and a 3-1 Jets lead.

"I wasn't too worried about it, but it's good to get it," Trouba said of his first goal of the season, adding the Jets didn't push for more offense after a scoreless first.

"We talked about it after the first period. It was a tight game and there wasn't really much there. We didn't really change anything, we just kind of trusted the game we've been playing. We score goals when the opportunity is there. No one was really pushing for it or doing anything different."

Video: POSTGAME | Matt Hendricks

One minute after that, Mathieu Perreault set up shop behind the Devils net, and when Matt Hendricks found a soft spot in the Devils defence, Perreault hit him with a pass. Hendricks sent a one-timer top corner before Schneider could get his glove up, extending the Jets lead to 4-1.

Before the end of the second, Perreault and Hendricks would click again. Hendricks skated the puck down the right wing boards, and slid a backhand in front. Perreault gained inside position at the last second on Devils defenceman Will Butcher, and redirected home his second goal in as many games, making it 5-1 Jets.

"What it looks like, and this is watching them interact in practice, you've got two veteran guys that value and enjoy the game," said Maurice. "They're excited when the game starts. One is a bit more of a snarly guy, but they both play hard on the puck. They can make plays. They're fun to have on the bench because they're wired start to finish."

New Jersey would cut the Jets lead to 5-2 when Taylor Hall's wrist shot squeaked through Hellebuyck and sat on the goal line, where Butcher could tap it in for his first NHL goal.

Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck

But Hellebuyck shut the door after that, keeping the Jets' opponent to two or less goals for the 11th time in his 14 starts. Overall, Hellebuyck stopped 34 of 36 on the night.

"He's been the backbone for our group this year. We've talked about it from day one. In this league, you've got to have goaltending," said Hendricks. "It keeps your team playing well when you're making mistakes and you're not playing great hockey. When you are playing great hockey, you feel like you can beat anyone in the league.

"With the way (Steve) Mason has played the last game and a half when he came in, we feel great about our goaltending right now."

But that's as close as they would get, as the Jets now prepare for a four-game road trip through Nashville, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose.

"We've been playing pretty good," said Connor. "We just approach each game as a new day, a new game, and a chance to get better."

ICE CHIPS

Toby Enstrom left the game in the second period with a lower body injury, and although the defenceman came back briefly in the middle frame, he didn't return for the third period.

Maurice didn't have an update on the 33-year-old's condition following the game, but added he would have more detail tomorrow.

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