Connor scores in fourth straight game in Jets victory against Sabres
Has two goals, assist; Hellebuyck makes 25 saves for Winnipegby Darrin Bauming / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
WINNIPEG -- Kyle Connor scored two goals and had an assist to help the Winnipeg Jets to a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday.
Connor extended his goal streak to four games with his sixth multigoal game of the season for the Jets (34-28-6). Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves.
"He doesn't need much time to get the puck off his stick," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "He's very quick to holes, so Mark [Scheifele] and Blake [Wheeler] are so strong on the puck they can buy that half second for Kyle to find a hole, and he's going to get it off his stick real quick, so it's tough for goalies to handle."
[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Jets highlights]
The Jets are tied with the Vancouver Canucks for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild.
"It's the same mindset coming into every single night," Connor said. "We came out to a good start here and I think our penalty kill really helped us get some momentum too.
Rasmus Ristolainen scored, and Carter Hutton made 32 saves for the Sabres (29-29-8) who have lost four straight games.
"No points in four games, we're looking at that in the eyes," Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger said of the four-game road trip. "We're not happy with that. We're going home grumpy and upset. But we also played some really good periods, we are a group in growth with an amazing fight-back. These guys just don't quit, which I'm pleased about."
Connor gave the Jets a 1-0 lead at 13:59 of the first period, and Tucker Poolman made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal at 16:05.
Video: BUF@WPG: Connor matches career-high with 34th goal
"I thought we played a pretty good first period," Ristolainen said. "They just had a few chances. They scored, and we couldn't capitalize on our chances."
Connor extended the lead to 3-0 on the power play at 3:41 of the second period. He has seven points (five goals, two assists) during a five-game point streak.
"I think it's just a mindset, playing our game," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. "We're pretty good at a certain way of playing, and we're not when we try to do some other things. You don't go out there saying let's shut them down defensively, you go out there with the mindset that you're going to play with speed and do the right things offensively so that you're limiting some of the odd-man rushes they might get the other way or some of the big chances they can get the other way for easy offense."
Ristolainen scored at 10:34 for the 3-1 final.
Video: BUF@WPG: Ristolainen fires puck home from tough angle
They said it
"It is quite unfathomable to be standing here after an 0-4 road trip like this, especially after how good we were playing going into it (5-1-0). We've just got to grab on to those small details and just keep working every single night and just keep growing this structure that (coach) Ralph [Krueger] has created for us here." -- Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe
"Defensively, he's on the puck and creates loose pucks. A lot of it is confidence that goes with it. When to make plays and when not to is also a big part of being a good player." -- Jets coach Paul Maurice on Kyle Connor
Need to know
Connor has 35 goals this season to set an NHL career high, one more than last season. The 23-year-old has scored at least 31 goals in three straight seasons. … Buffalo has lost four straight games three times this season. … The Sabres are 3-7-1 in their past 11 games in Winnipeg. … Wheeler had two assists and has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his past 10 games.
Sabres: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)
Jets: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+ TSN3, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)