OTTAWA, ON - From the moment Mathieu Perreault was put on the top line with Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, a lot of good things have happened for the Winnipeg Jets offensively.
With points in each of his last three, Perreault has rediscovered his touch around the net, Scheifele has had three multi-point efforts, and Laine - the sharp-shooting wunderkind - has had his pursuit of the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie kick into overdrive.
Most importantly, these three were a big reason the team picked up a second straight win, and third in the past four games, on Sunday in Ottawa.
Perreault, Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey had the goals, while Scheifele and Laine contributing two assists in a 3-2 win at Canadian Tire Centre.
Connor Hellebuyck was excellent once again, stopping 32 of 34 in the win.
"It's fun for me to play with those guys," Perreault said. "They're top players in this league and anyone who's playing with them is going to get some chances. … It's crazy how this game goes sometimes. I felt like my game was strong but nothing was going in for me. And now I get a bounce in Montreal, and then the next game, again. Just goes to show that if you keep working hard, they'll eventually go in."
In addition to playing such a key role offensively, the trio was deployed in the final minute to protect the one-goal lead.
"(Scheifele) and (Laine) have been going so well," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "Patty can get the puck into the middle to Mark … and Matty Perreault brings so much energy and confidence. (Perreault) back on the puck, he plays like a guy twice his size and they need that, they need that intensity on the puck. They looked good. They looked fast and they had good hands going tonight."
Laine now has a rookie high 52 points (28G, 24A) in only 52 games, while Scheifele is now up to 60 (25G, 35A) on the year, and is only away from tying a career high with a quarter of the campaign left to play.
Video: WPG@OTT: Perreault backhands it home to double lead
As much as Laine has been producing points in recent weeks - 22 in his last 15 games, in fact - his play without the puck has been equally, if not more impressive. He's winning battles in open ice and along the boards, creating space for himself and his linemates and, as evidenced in both games this weekend, he's become quite good at reading the play and intercepting breakouts at or just inside the blue line.
We're just now seeing the remarkable playmaking side of his game take shape, and it's a thing of beauty to watch unfold. Maurice wasn't kidding when he said Laine was "light years" better now than he was at the beginning of the year.
With the Jets leading 2-1, the teams traded goals early in the third. Morrissey floated one through from the left-centre point, beating Condon high over the right shoulder after it changed direction off Cody Ceci in front to make it 3-1, but the Sens got it right back off the foot of Zack Smith just 2:31 later.
Video: WPG@OTT: Morrissey beats Condon off deflection
Ottawa nearly tied it with under 10 seconds left as the puck was knocked around on the goal line, but Hellebuyck - using a strong push with the left pad - kept it out. The play had to be reviewed after the game ended, but video determined the puck did not 'conclusively' cross the line.
Even if it had, Hellebuyck's pad was likely pushed into the net, so it wouldn't have counted anyway.
The Jets opened the scoring only 1:09 into the contest as Byfuglien took a feed from Mark Scheifele and unloaded from the top of the right circle, beating Condon high on the glove side for his ninth of the year.
The Jets opened up a two-goal lead at 12:28 as Perreault, with help from Laine and Scheifele, banged home a loose puck at the lip of the blue paint after hemming the Sens in their own end for nearly a minute. Perreault, who scored the winning goal in a 3-1 win Saturday in Montreal, created some chaos down low with a big hit on Derick Brassard before going to the net, retrieving the puck and sweeping it home on the backhand, giving him goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Video: WPG@OTT: Byfuglien beats Condon on glove side early
While things were certainly going right for the Jets offensively, they were giving plenty of chances the other way, and 10 saves from Hellebuyck - along with a couple of Winnipeg bounces - kept the visitors in front after a fast-paced opening frame.
"I liked all of our first 20 minutes," Maurice said. "We skated exceptionally well and finished what we needed to, but our pace and our sticks - both offensively and defensively - were going right at the best we can do it."
Ottawa cut the deficit in half with a power-play goal at 5:09 of the second. Moments after the Sens rifled a shot off the post, Winnipeg native Mark Stone took a pass in the high slot and fired it over Hellebuyck's left shoulder to make it a 2-1 game.
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
The Senators outshot the Jets 15-7 in the third, but Winnipeg hung on for the victory.
"We've got to string as many as we can together," Blake Wheeler said of the Jets' recent hot streak. "It's not really about how, it's how many you can put together. We've really found our game here lately going into the break, and we've got another huge one coming up in Toronto.
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com