WINNIPEG - Head Coach Paul Maurice has said it time and time again: The Winnipeg Jets are going to have to get comfortable, and learn how to win games like the one we saw Tuesday in different ways all year.
It was more of a "grinder" on this night, with the Jets opening up a two-goal lead before the Devils fought back to make it a game of it with a strong push down the stretch. But the home side held on, showing that same battle, will and determination that them helped get back in the win column just a couple days ago.
Suffice it to say: They're back on track.
Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine supplied the offence, while Connor Hellebuyck made 23 saves to help the Jets knock off the Devils 3-2 at MTS Centre.
Hellebuyck, who has now won each of his last five home starts, had his impressive home shutout streak snapped at 174 minutes and 55 seconds, but in doing so set a new franchise record.
"I liked our game," Maurice game. "We, again, left most of our best offence behind their net, or off the posts - we had some great looks that we didn't complete, but our composure was pretty good and we held through it. Even when they came back and scored their goals - they're a good team and they're going to get some action - it was a pretty good game."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
With the Jets leading 2-0 to start the third period, the recently recalled Miles Wood scored his first NHL goal at 2:53 of the third, pulling the Devils within one. Wood, who was awarded a penalty shot earlier in the game, chased down a loose puck and snuck a shot through Hellebuyck's pads from a tough angle, but the Jets got it right back.
Laine took the puck down the right side and rifled a shot top shelf, putting him back into a tie with Scheifele for the team lead in goals with 13.
Video: NJD@WPG: Laine finds the corner with top-shelf goal
"He could have had four tonight with the post and other near misses," Maurice said of the 18-year-old, whose goal was his first in eight games. "Usually when guys are on the bench screaming 'shoot!' it's a negative, but when he gets the puck, guys are telling him to shoot it from anywhere because it usually has a chance of going in. I like being able to free that line up a little bit and I thought they were good."
Added Scheifele, who dished off and then trailed the play up ice: "Great shot. I was pretty much right behind him and you pretty much can't see it. … He's a pretty lethal scorer and you see that shot pretty much every night. He could have had a few tonight."
The Devils made it a one-goal game once again at 7:58 as Nick Lappin drove the net and put the home the rebound from a Damon Severson slap shot, but that was as close as they would.
"They got that early on to get a little momentum and that's kind of how it goes," Wheeler said. "They did a good job trying to pour it on there but we held it down.
"We knew that was going to be a tough road trip and maybe didn't think it would be that tough. Either way, it didn't go the way we needed to, obviously, and the only way to rebound is to come back home and get back on track and try to string together a few wins and put that has far back in your memory as possible."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
Two quick goals midway through the second period supplied the offence as the Jets walked away with a 2-0 win.
Scheifele opened the scoring at 11:19 after Nikolaj Ehlers made a series of terrific solo efforts to eventually get the puck on goal. Dustin Byfuglien got the first crack at the rebound before Scheifele buried it, giving him 13 on the year.
Winnipeg added to its lead within minutes, as Wheeler dug deep in the trenches, fighting his way through traffic before jumping on a loose puck at the side of the net and roofing it over the sprawling efforts of the goaltender.
Andrew Copp and Jacob Trouba picked up the assists.
The goals came just 2:01 apart as the Jets poured it on, outshooting the Devils 16-6 in the middle frame.
The Jets had a great opportunity to score the game's first goal early in the second period when back-to-back Devils penalties gave them an extended 5-on-3 power play. Winnipeg had full control for the entire 1:41, but Jersey goalie Cory Schneider's best friend(s) kept the home side off the board.
Nikolaj Ehlers found the crossbar for the second time in the game when he smacked a bullet from just off the right circle. Then, just a few seconds later, Patrik Laine unleashed a one-timer on the opposite side but hit square on the far-side pipe to keep the game in a 0-0 tie.
Bryan Little, who was playing his first game back after missing 23 games with a lower-body injury, was another one of the Jets' top runners up front. He had at least three quality chances in the first, and finished with more than 20 minutes of ice time.
This, from a guy that was expecting to have ease back into the swing of things.
Not a chance.
"He was excellent. Better than I expected," Wheeler said of his linemate. "That first shift, I kicked one to him in the D zone and he took off like he was a bat out of hell. He was flying tonight. It's pretty exciting to have him back in the lineup, and that's just the tip of the iceberg for us.
At the other end, Hellebuyck wasn't overly busy but he had to be sharp when called upon in a fast-paced opening 20, stopping all seven shots he faced, including a breakaway by Wood. Wood, a fourth-round pick in 2013, made a great move to break in alone after a pair of Winnipeg defenders bumped into each other at the blue line, but Hellebuyck kicked out the right pad to make a sensational save on the goal line.
Overall, though, the Jets had the better of the play and nearly capitalized late in the period when Ehlers got a piece of a Dustin Byfuglien point shot, but the deflection caught the very bottom of the crossbar and stayed out.
LATE HITS: Marko Dano left the game early in the first period and did not return after being struck with a high stick while battling for a loose puck around the Jersey net. The culprit, Kyle Quincey, was not penalized on the play. "He's going to see the doctor now," Maurice said. "He got split (near) his eye, but his eye, we believe right now, is good and solid. We're hopeful with that. This takes a few days, possibly to see how much bleeding - if any - so he's day-to-day now before he's out of the woods."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com