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Scheifele's two goals lead Jets past Flames

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEGMark Scheifele scored twice and Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1 Thursday at MTS Centre.

Michael Hutchinson made 32 saves in the win.

The Jets are now .500 in the pre-season at 2-2-2. The exhibition schedule comes to a close on Saturday night in Calgary.

Deryk Engelland scored the lone goal for the Flames, while Joni Ortio made 23 saves in a losing effort.

“I think we played a good game,” Hutchinson said. “We didn’t give them too many scoring chances off the rush. The chances they did get were from pucks bouncing weird ways and from us pushing the limit on our gap, which is a good thing for us. We had some good blocked shots, too, and it’s nice when your offence scores three goals.”

Calgary took a 1-0 lead at 3:38 after a long shot from Engelland found the back of the net, but the Jets were quick to respond, scoring a power-play goal at 8:55 to bring the game back on even terms.

On a 2-on-1 from the blue line in, trending topic Nic Petan delivered a beautiful pass to Scheifele, who effortlessly redirected the puck past Ortio at the lip of the blue paint. Flames defenceman Ryan Wilson was caught flat-footed on the play, giving the pair a clear lane to the net. Ehlers picked up the second assist after drawing two defenders along the half wall before dishing off to Petan.

“A whole lot of work from everyone else and not a lot from me,” Scheifele said, laughing, when asked what he saw on the play. “They both made a good play. I was happy to be on the back door ready for a tap in.

“They’re special players and they have tons of skill. They move the puck well, see the ice well. They’re pretty fun to play with.”

Hutchinson was dialled in at the other end, thwarting a Mason Raymond breakaway moments later.

Ehlers gave the Jets a 2-1 lead with 37 seconds left in the period. With Wilson down and out once again, the winger shimmied his way through the slot before sliding the puck five-hole for his first of the pre-season.

“The next game is important as well and they’ll get another look,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said of the young players fighting for jobs. “They deserve to go back in the lineup and get another opportunity. I didn’t feel anyone fell off. As camp has gone on they’ve actually gotten better. They’re more comfortable with what we’re trying to do; you’re not directing them on the bench. They’re picking up the stuff that they’re supposed to pick up and clearly they all have a different gift, so we want to give them a chance to show it.

“They’re all good players and they’re all going to play in the NHL, so you’re looking for that consistency.”

Shots on goal favoured the Flames 10-9 after one period play.

The Jets took a 3-1 lead with 1:26 to play in the second period. After receiving a feed from Ben Chiarot, who was abnormally deep in Flames territory, Scheifele made no mistake, finding a seam short side on Ortio.

Hutchinson shut the door the rest of the way, preserving the lead with a number of showstoppers – none better than a sliding kick save on Mikael Backlund, who deked to the backhand on a clear-cut break midway through the third.

“I felt really good,” Hutchinson said. “It felt easier than it did in Minnesota – a little bit slower. It’s always nice when the game slows down for you.

“It was nice to play a full 60 minutes and get through that mental grind of staying focused for that long.”

The Jets close out the pre-season schedule on Saturday night in Calgary.

– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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