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Jets get three goals from defencemen in win over Pittsburgh

Scheifele, Laine each finish with three assists

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

PITTSBURGH, PA - For the first time in franchise history, the Winnipeg Jets beat the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

Even with veteran defencemen Josh Morrissey and Dmitry Kulikov out of the line-up, the Jets had goals from defencemen Neal Pionk and Tucker Poolman, as well as Ville Heinola - who notched his first NHL goal in the 4-1 win.

"It was really good. It's done now, so I don't have to wait anymore," said Heinola, adding that it was Jets captain Blake Wheeler who grabbed the special puck for him. Meanwhile, Heinola could barely remember his emotions after the game.

"I was just like 'Let's go!'" He said.

Video: POSTGAME | Ville Heinola

Nikolaj Ehlers scored his first of the 2019-20 campaign to round out the Jets scoring, while Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves.

Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele were big contributors in the win - which moved the Jets to 2-2-0 on the season - recording three assists each.

It was the classic case of good defence leading to offence.

"Overall tonight in the game I thought as forwards we did a good job making sure the D were supported well," said Laine. "That's something we have to keep doing, especially with a young D corps."

Sidney Crosby opened the scoring 32 seconds into the game when he found some open space in front of Connor Hellebuyck smacked home a pass from Jake Guentzel for his first of the campaign.

That would be the only puck to get by Hellebuyck on this night.

"I felt good in the net. I thought the guys in front of me played very hard," said Hellebuyck. "They were blocking shots at the right time and they were controlling the shots from the outside. It was a team win tonight."

Video: POSTGAME | Patrik Laine

The Jets found the equalizer 5:16 later - and it'll be a memory Heinola remembers for the rest of his career.

Laine sent a rim below the goal line to Scheifele, who fought off a check from Erik Gudbranson. Seeing that, Heinola pinched in below the top of the left circle and hammered home a pass from Scheifele for his first NHL goal.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice loved seeing Heinola score.

"They really like this guy. He's got a big smile on his face and he works really hard, Maurice said of Heinola, who has three points in four NHL games. 

"He does so many good little things that the guys on the ice appreciate. There was a real big cheer for him."

Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck

Just over four minutes later, Ehlers picked off a puck at the offensive blue line and with three Penguins caught up high in the zone, the Danish forward used defenceman Marcus Pettersson as a screen. He wired home his first of the season past Murray's glove side to give the Jets a 2-1 lead.

Coming into the night, the 14 shots Ehlers had on goal were the most in the NHL without scoring. 

Winnipeg extended the lead 54 seconds into the middle frame. A strong offensive zone shift led to a bouncing puck getting to Poolman in the high slot. The University of North Dakota alum sent a wrist shot on goal that went under the arm of Murray. 

Pionk's second goal in three games - off a goal mouth scramble that resulted from a Laine wrist shot - built the Jets lead up to 4-1.

"What our forwards do well is cause enough concern deep in the offensive zone to draw people off our back end. It's why historically our defence have put up some pretty good numbers," Maurice said.

"That's what happened on a number of those goals. On Neal's goal, we had lots of traffic in front of the net on that one."

Video: WPG@PIT: Heinola buries one-timer for first goal

Scheifele then had a goal taken away after an offside challenge from the Penguins later in the second period, but the Jets alternate captain now leads the Jets in points with six in four games heading back to Winnipeg.

Maurice is satisfied with a split on the four-game trip.

"I'm happy with it missing the guys we have. The defence have done something to make that happen. They've been a real big part of it," Maurice said.

"You play 0.500 hockey on the road and win your home games, you're a good team."

Next up, the Jets host the Minnesota Wild on Thursday at Bell MTS Place.

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