BROOKLYN, NY - The Winnipeg Jets would be the first to admit they typically don't do well in situations where they're forced to play catch-up.
But when the Islanders opened the scoring only 38 seconds into Thursday's contest at Barclays Center, it was the kick in the pants these road warriors needed to shake the rust of an unusually long break between games and turn things in their favour.
From then on, they were the ones in control - long enough, anyway, to build a commanding lead.
Bryan Little (2), Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry scored, while Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves to help the Jets beat the Islanders 4-2 to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Jets will now head home with three of a possible four points on what became a two-game trip away from Winnipeg.
"It was a weird last couple days for us," captain Blake Wheeler said "The nature of the schedule, being thrown off our routine a little bit, I think it affected us the first five minutes, but we rebounded."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
The Jets carried a 4-1 lead into the third, but the Islanders made a push and Anders Lee cut the deficit to two early in that final frame.
But the Jets held them off, despite being outshot 10-8.
"We settled down (after Lee's goal)," Wheeler said. "Obviously you want to spend a lot of that period in our zone and we didn't that, but we wanted to defend as five. We didn't need more goals, you just want to try and make them do too much and from there you can create some offence off their mistakes. They're in desperation mode, so you've got to give them some credit, they had a good third period."
The Islanders were all over the Jets after Adam Pelech drew first blood, and if it weren't for Hellebuyck putting up the fortress on three-time 30-goal man John Tavares on a penalty kill immediately after, the game could have gone sideways in a hurry.
"From that point on, other than one shift, straight through to the second period, we were on the puck very, very well," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "We moved the puck through the neutral zone with very good speed and we stayed on it in the offensive zone so we could roll four lines."
The Jets evened things up at 9:21 as Little buried the rebound from a Nikolaj Ehlers blast from the right circle. Ehlers had all day to walk in and tee it up, but the cannon caught iron over the goalie's right shoulder. Little was quick to the scene, plunging it short side for his first of the night.
No. 2 - a power-play marker - put the Jets up 2-1 with 1:25 left in the period. The play was again made possible by the speed of Ehlers, who took the puck up the right side before a crowd of black sweaters interrupted the rush and forced him to cut back and dish off in tight.
Video: WPG@NYI: Little cranks home his second of the game
Nic Petan, who was a healthy scratch in four of the past five games, drew the primary assist with a nifty feed at the top of the circles, allowing Little to walk in and bang home the one-timer for his 20th of the year.
"It feels like lately it hasn't been [going for me offensively], so tonight it was good," Little said. "It was just coming to my stick and my linemates did a good job getting pucks turned over. That's the way it goes sometimes."
Video: POSTGAME | Bryan Little
Asked what Little has meant to the Jets this season after becoming the fifth player to hit the 20-goal plateau, Maurice could only smile before offering this truly authentic account:
"Most of it would just be profanity from me. He's played, what, 48 games now? Insert all of those words I'm thinking that you know I'm thinking. We could have used him the first 23. He's a huge piece to what we do."
Petan, meanwhile, was having his best game of the year and after making a beautiful play to Marko Dano that came oh-so close in tight, he scored what would have been the prettiest of his three career goals in a middle frame dominated by the Jets, but the would-be PPG was called back due to an offside challenge.
In all, the Jets outshot the Islanders 13-8 in the second.
The Jets opened up a 3-1 lead at 3:24 of the period as Perreault found himself with all kinds of time at the far circle after getting a feed from Wheeler. Perreault made no mistake, firing it short side for his eighth of the year and first in five games.
Video: WPG@NYI: Perreault beats Greiss with quick wrist shot
Within minutes of the Petan 'goal,' the Jets got one to fall, anyway, as Lowry went hard to the blue paint and, on the second effort, chopped home his own rebound, setting a new career high in goals with his 12th of the campaign.
"At the start it looked like it was going to be a trainwreck, but good on the lads, they got their feet underneath them," Maurice said.
"They started to make the game a little simpler and from there we created some speed."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com