ST. PAUL, MN - Nothing like a matinee affair to get the Winnipeg Jets out of their mini-slump.
For whatever reason the Jets enjoy playing afternoon games and you have to assume it's because they have been excellent. Winnipeg is 6-0 in matinee games this season after Saturday's 6-0 win at Xcel Energy Center over the Minnesota Wild.
"The last couple of games have been rough for us. We ran into some teams that have played well," said Blake Wheeler.
"We were playing so well for such a long time that grind got away from us for a little bit for a couple of games. Sometimes you need a good feeling to get back rolling. Yeah, it was good to jump on them early in this building."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
Wheeler registered a goal and an assist moving him past Ilya Kovalchuk into top spot of the Jets/Thrashers all-time points list. Patrik Laine scored twice, Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Logan Shaw scored for the Jets who are now 21-13-2 on the season and moved five points clear of the Wild in the Central Division standings.
"For a guy that works that hard every day you deserve to have good things happen," said Paul Maurice.
"To become the all-time leader in a big game for us in his home state. To have his mom and dad here, I feel fantastic for him. He deserved it."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
Lost in the shuffle was the outstanding play of Connor Hellebuyck who bounced back from losses to Carolina and Chicago on home ice. The Michigan product made 31 saves for the 17th shutout of his career and that ties him with Ondrej Pavelec for the most in franchise history. Hellebuyck has been in goal for all of Winnipeg's afternoon games and has won all of them and recorded two shutouts in the process.
"I felt really good actually. Came to the rink with a good battle mentality and I think the guys played fantastic in front of me," said Hellebuyck.
"You know anytime they put up six. I just thought our overall game we never took a shift off."
Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck
Wheeler tied Kovalchuk with the Jets shorthanded in the first period at 14:43 off an odd man rush, Wheeler took a pass from Adam Lowry and wired a shot high in the top corner behind Alex Stalock to make it 1-0. That was Wheeler's 11th career shorthanded marker and he is now one behind Marian Hossa for most in club history.
Winnipeg would make it 2-0 with five seconds left in the opening frame. Kyle Connor's initial attempt would hit the goal post and the puck would go back to the blueline where Luca Sbisa's rocket was redirected by Scheifele for his 17th of the season.
Halfway through the second, Laine would use a screen provided by Jonas Brodin to his advantage ripping a wrist shot through the Wild defenceman's legs and past Stalock who didn't see it until it was too late.
1:09 into the third with both teams skating 4-on-4 Kyle Connor slid a nice pass across to Nikolaj Ehlers and he extended his point streak to four games to make it 4-0.
Wheeler moved past Kovalchuk with an assist on Laine's second goal of the day, a power play marker during a 4-on-3 man advantage. Wheeler put a perfect pass to Laine who one-timed it for his second goal of the afternoon.
"It wasn't something I set out to do, thought about. I'm really feel like a product of some good teams, played on some really good lines, played a lot of minutes," said Wheeler who is now at 616 points with the Jets franchise.
"So I just feel fortunate to have the opportunities I have here and the guys I get to play with every single day."
Jansen Harkins made his NHL debut this afternoon and he made his day even more special with an assist on Logan Shaw goal for his first NHL point. Shaw immediately picked up the puck for his teammate for safe keeping.
"I mean if everything goes well right," smiled Harkins when asked if he saw this coming when he was called up on Wednesday.
"I was excited just to be able to play tonight. Obviously the point is an added bonus there, pretty exciting"
Video: POSTGAME | Jansen Harkins
The Jets are 11-6-1 on the road this season and have won eight of their past 11 road games. They will now wrap up their pre-Christmas break schedule with a home game against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday at 7 pm CT.