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Little, Comrie lead Jets to win over Blue Jackets

Little has four-point night (1G, 3A); Comrie makes NHL debut, stops 35

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick / WinnipegJets.com

COLUMBUS, OH - Bryan Little had a season-high four point night with a goal and three helpers, Mathieu Perreault was not far behind with trey of his own (1G, 2A), and Jacob Trouba had a pair of power-play markers to lead the Jets to a 5-4 win over one of the league's best teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Jets have now won six straight games while the Jackets - who will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs - have dropped five in a row.

In his NHL debut, Eric Comrie looked very good, posting 35 saves for his first big-league victory.

Comrie had several big saves, including a terrific right-pad stop on a turnaround shot by Alexander Wennberg that was labeled for the far corner late in the first, and another off in similar fashion off Scott Harrington midway through the second to keep the Jets in front after building a 3-1 lead.

Video: WPG@CBJ: Comrie lays out for the save in NHL debut

"It actually felt pretty similar (to the AHL)," said Comrie, who had most of his family on hand at Nationwide Arena. "It was definitely a little bit quicker and guys can shoot better and stuff like that, but for the most part, for me, it was the same thing and I just went out and played my game.

"I was a little nervous all day but once I got to the rink I just settled into my routine, everything just kind of clicked and it was another game for me."

Video: POSTGAME | Eric Comrie

Trouba broke a 3-3 tie at 3:06 of the third period with a cannon from the point on the Jets' third power play of the night, screaming his eighth of the year past Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo.

Little gave the Jets a 5-3 lead at 9:35 he finished a 2-on-1-turned-breakaway with a nifty move in tight, backhanding his 21st of the year into the heart of the cage.

Boone Jenner got one back at the 14-minute mark, but Comrie shut the door the rest of the way to preserve the victory.

"He was very, very good," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "The little things, rebound control, the number of quick shots that came to him that he got off into the corner and we didn't have to fight for. A smaller goalie has to be really positionally sound to play in this league and there were three or four that he got his shoulder or his blocker on, and that's all technique. He deserved to win based on the number of shots that he faced and I'm happy for him.

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Comrie was recalled on Wednesday and had his first practice with the Jets later that day on a couple hours rest after playing (and winning) with the Manitoba Moose 12 hours earlier.

"He just looked really focused," Maurice said. "Clearly you could see that at the morning skate. I didn't see that. I saw that he came to work. I saw the same this morning as I did tonight; I didn't see any jitters at all. He's an unusual man. His work ethic is outstanding, his conditioning when he comes to camp [is, too], the volume of work that he's had in the American Hockey League for the past two years… When you work that hard every single day, you know how to come to work the next day. So he gets called up to the NHL, he gets right into his (regular) work-level routine."

The Jets built up a 3-1 lead by the midway point of the second period, but had it quickly erased before taking the game back in the final frame.

Video: WPG@CBJ: Little cuts to the net a roofs nice backhand

The Jets were under siege early on, surrendering eight of the first nine shots of the game before the Jackets, and their captain Nick Foligno, finally solved Comrie at 6:58.

Foligno started the play by picking a Winnipeg pass attempt out of midair at the defensive blue line and galloping back the other way with numbers. Making a quick move to the middle and using Josh Morrissey as a filter, Foligno ripped off a shot off the far post and in to give Columbus a 1-0 lead.

That goal seemed to wake up the Jets, though, as the shots were even at seven apiece the rest of the way in the opening frame.

The Jets evened things up with a power-play goal at 13:54 as Trouba fired a one-timer clean through the goalie off an excellent feed from Little, who drew the high-sticking penalty on Scott Harrington. Little, who controlled the puck along the far wall, moved down to the right circle and delivered a beautiful backhand pass over a stick and right into the wheelhouse of the defenceman.

"It wasn't the prettiest game out there," Little said. "There were definitely times in the game where we didn't play that well and hung our goalie out to dry a little bit, but he made some big saves and we'll take the win.

"It was just one of those games where chances were coming. It was kind of like how the whole game went. Our line gave up some chances and had some turnovers, but we got some good looks the other way. It was just one of those games where those were going in for us."

Video: POSTGAME | Bryan Little

The goal was No. 7 on the year for Trouba, who continues to expand his career high in points (33).

Scheifele gave the Jets a 2-1 lead with his 32nd of the year at 15:25, as he chipped a quick shot over the glove after getting a pass from Blake Wheeler at the lip of the blue paint.

The Jets opened up a two-goal lead at 3:49 of the second as Perreault picked up his 13th of the year. Off the rush, Perreault showed great patience, cutting to the middle and waiting everyone out before ripping a high shot past the goaltender.

Video: WPG@CBJ: Perreault cuts across slot, buries wrister

But the Jackets weren't going away. Brandon Saad made a one-goal game once again just three-and-a-half minutes later he worked his way in alone off the right and slipped a quick shot five-hole to halve the deficit.

Saad then tied the game at 12:35 after the Jets failed to clear the zone on a routine chip play. With numbers in tight, Saad put a quick shot off the far post, but then quickly cleaned up the rebound with his 24th of the season.

That, too, seemed to spark the Jets.

"We're a good offensive-zone team. Lots of movement. I think we were over-feeling it there for a while, but most games you're not going to complain about the offence with our team," Maurice said.

The Jets will now head home to close out the 2016-17 season on Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

LATE HITS: Columbus native Jack Roslovic made his NHL debut as well. The 21-year-old has one shot on goal in just under eight-and-a-half minutes of ice time.

"That line was going. (Chris) Thorburn and (Brandon) Tanev had some real good speed on the forecheck and Rosco was really responsible. I liked his game a lot," Maurice said.

- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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