WINNIPEG - It's not often a coach will joke about a goaltender giving up four goals, but Winnipeg's Paul Maurice did just that after the Jets defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4 on Thursday night.
Rookie Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves and remained undefeated in his four-game NHL career, but it was the first game he'd let in more than one goal.
When told the 22 year old was feeling a bit disappointed about that, Maurice responded with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
"Send him down. He's got a one-goal limit," he said.
Maurice added in a more serious tone that Hellebuyck made saves when he had to and that the Jets had "a lot of really good performances throughout the game."
That included mounting a 3-0 lead on Winnipeg's first five shots and a four-point performance from Mathieu Perreault.
Perreault scored once and added three assists to tie his career-high for points in a single game. He had four goals in a game last season.
Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry, Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler also scored for Winnipeg (14-13-2). Byfuglien, Stafford and Little each added a pair of assists and Scheifele had one.
"Give them credit for not quitting," Perreault said of the Blue Jackets. "We had two times a three-goal lead and they came back and almost made it a tie game."
Columbus coach John Tortorella wasn't comforted by the comeback attempt.
"We lost the game, so we can break it down all you want as far as a push here and a push there ??? we didn't play well enough to win," he said.
Cam Atkinson struck twice for the Blue Jackets (11-17-2), with Boone Jenner and Scott Hartnell each chipping in with their 12th goals of the season. Alexander Wennberg had three assists.
Curtis McElhinney turned aside 29-of-34 shots for Columbus. He remains winless in eight games this season (0-5-1). McElhinney started in place of Sergei Bobrovsky, who suffered a groin strain on Tuesday, and is expected to be out three weeks.
The Blue Jackets felt the loss of Bobrovsky quickly.
Scheifele picked up his team-leading 11th goal of the season 27 seconds into the game. Just one minute 55 seconds later, Winnipeg made it 2-0 when Lowry scored his first goal of the season by redirecting a Byfuglien shot from the point at 2:22.
The pair of goals were the second fastest to begin a game in the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers' franchise history, according to Elias. The fastest was 1:22 in 2002.
The Jets made it 3-0 at 10:48 with Byfuglien's power-play goal, but Columbus finally scored at 15:38 when Hellebuyck missed sweeping the puck out of the crease. Jenner banged it in for his 12th goal of the season.
With 56 seconds left in the second period, Hartnell used a rebound during a power play to put the puck past Hellebuyck.
"I thought it was OK," Hellebuyck said of his play. "I liked some things. Like I said, I want to tighten up some things. I don't want to be letting in four goals so I'll go to practice and I'll figure some things out."
The Jets made it 5-2 on goals from Stafford and Perreault by 7:36 of the third period before Atkinson got his pair. Wheeler rounded out the scoring with an empty netter.
Winnipeg heads to Chicago on Friday to face the Blackhawks, who lost 5-1 to Nashville Thursday. It's the seventh back-to-back set for the Jets this season. They're 2-3-1 in the second games so far. Columbus hosts the New York Islanders on Saturday.