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Jets score four unanswered to earn comeback win over Arizona

Ehlers, Eakin, and Poolman finish with multi-point nights

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - It's one thing to earn a comeback win, it's another to get a victory in that fashion against a team among the league's best in terms of how few goals they give up.

But the Winnipeg Jets did just that Tuesday night, erasing a 2-0 first period deficit to the Arizona Coyotes, turning it into a critical 4-2 victory over one of the teams they're battling with for a playoff spot.

Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and three points in the win, with Winnipeg native Cody Eakin putting the Jets ahead for good with 8:27 to go in the third period.

"At this point, you're trying to get as close to playoff style hockey as possible. That's keeping it simple," said Ehlers. "I'm trying to use my speed as much as I can in the right places and the right situations. It's been working. It's something I have to continue."

Video: ARI@WPG: Eakin fires backhand past sprawling Kuemper

Along with Ehlers and Eakin, Jets defenceman Tucker Poolman also had a multi-point night with a goal and an assist.

It was the first multi-point game of his career.

"All the defencemen, they tell us to follow the play," said Poolman, who now has three points in his last three games. "Right now the puck is just finding me back over there. It's one of those things I can't explain."

Despite the Jets (36-28-6) racking up the offensive zone time early, Arizona opened the scoring with 4:10 remaining in the first. Nick Schmaltz worked his way into the slot and flipped home his 10th goal of the season, with Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg picking up assists on the play.

Schmaltz's second of the night built on the Arizona lead with 1.2 seconds left in the first, when he chipped home a loose puck in front of Connor Hellebuyck to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes.

"We were down 2-0, so I can't sell it, but I thought we were better in the first than the score told us we were," said head coach Paul Maurice. "The players believed that because they came out and pressed, built on that game, and kept going."

Video: ARI@WPG: Poolman cleans up rebound in front

The confidence paid off.

Poolman's stretch pass sprung Ehlers 2:13 into the second, and the Danish forward flew up the right-wing side, cut around Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and beat Darcy Kuemper on the glove side for his 25th of the season. 

"We wanted to finish off this home stand the right way. The first period, we created a bunch of good stuff. Then in the second period, we came out the right way," said Ehlers. "The first shift we had, we were in their zone for 1:30 or whatever. We came out the right way and we were able to continue that for the next 40 minutes and get the two points."

Poolman's big second period continued with 2:33 to go in the middle frame, when Cody Eakin's initial shot was stopped by Kuemper, the Jets defenceman found the rebound and backhanded it into the yawning cage to tie things up at two.

Eakin and Ehlers drew assists on Poolman's fourth goal of the campaign.

"He can just get up the ice. Once you get a little experience in the league and you know that you're going to make some mistakes some time, you just play the game," Maurice said of Poolman.

"For a big man, for any man, he covers an awful lot of ice. That was his game in college. It wasn't necessarily a running the top of the power play kind of game, but he can get up the ice very quickly."

Video: ARI@WPG: Eakin fires backhand past sprawling Kuemper

Winnipeg took their first lead of the game with 8:27 to go, when a broken play off an offensive zone face-off left Cody Eakin alone in front of Kuemper. Eakin moved to his backhand and outwaited the Arizona goaltender, eventually firing a backhand off the far post and in for his first as a member of the Jets.

Looking back on the play, Eakin gave kudos to Ehlers for the kick pass that got the puck to him in the slot behind the Arizona defence.

"The d-man is trying to tie up his stick. I think he looked over and saw me coming through," said Eakin. "If you watch him in the soccer circle before the game, he's pretty sharp with his feet and his kick. He was on point. You can chalk it up to that."

Mark Scheifele sealed the victory with an empty netter, his 29th goal of the season, to put the Jets back into the top wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

As emotional as the win was, things don't get any easier for the Jets, who now head out on the road for three games.

"It's done. The only benefits to wins right now is you don't have to feel sad that you lost," said Maurice. "It's a big win, but it'll be a quiet room 10 minutes after it's over. Everybody is on to the next one."

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