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Jets defeat Flames with each team resting players

by Patrick Williams /

WINNIPEG -- The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets used their regular-season finale Saturday as a tuneup for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With each team scratching several regulars, Jets forward Michael Frolik scored 47 seconds into the third period of a four-goal period for Winnipeg, who defeated the Flames 5-1 at MTS Centre.

The win gave the Jets a franchise-best 99 points. Their 43 wins tied a franchise high. Winnipeg finished the season undefeated in regulation its final five games (4-0-1).

Winnipeg (43-26-13) began the game having clinched the second wild card from the Western Conference and will play the Anaheim Ducks, who clinched the top seed in the West with a 2-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes, in the First Round.

Calgary (45-30-7) will play the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the Playoffs. The Flames finished third in the Pacific Division and will open the series in Vancouver. The Flames' 22 road wins tied a franchise record.

"I think we're playing the same game on the road as at home, so we feel good in visiting rinks," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "It's about Playoff hockey now. If you want to go and move on, you'll have to go and win on the road, so that’s no problem."

Several Flames remained in Calgary to rest for the Playoffs. Defensemen TJ Brodie, Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman did not dress. Hartley also rested forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler, David Jones and Sean Monahan. Defensemen John Ramage, Brett Kulak and center Sam Bennett, the fourth pick in the 2014 NHL Draft each made their NHL debut.

"For the youngsters, it was a great experience for them," Hartley said. "They were really excited to play. Some of our veteran guys that we did not play, they've been carrying injuries for the past month, the past month-and-a-half. They kept going. Obviously now we can get those nagging injuries away from us. We should have a fresh lineup in Vancouver."

Jets coach Paul Maurice scratched defensemen Tyler Myers, Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba, and forwards Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault (lower body). Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec did not dress after starting 12 of the past 13 games.

"For [each] team it was difficult," Maurice said. "Not a lot of physicality in the game. A bit of an exhibition in terms of overhandling the puck and bringing it back a bunch of times. You'd certainly like to clinch earlier, but you wouldn't want to have to play too many of those [games]."

Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom returned to the Winnipeg lineup. Byfuglien had served a four-game suspension for cross-checking New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller on March 31. Enstrom had missed the past three games because of an upper-body injury.

Flames goaltender Joni Ortio started his sixth game of the season and made 17 saves. Michael Hutchinson played for the first time since March 24 at Vancouver and had 24 saves for the Jets. Hutchinson's 21 wins ranked second in the League among rookie goaltenders to Jake Allen of St. Louis (22 wins).

"It was nice to get back," said Hutchinson. "There is a little bit of rust to work off when you don't play as often, but I felt better and better as the game went on."

Michael Ferland's goal 33 seconds into the game put Calgary ahead 1-0, but Drew Stafford scored for Winnipeg 15 seconds later to make it a 1-1 game.

Stafford's 18th goal tied the game with a left-circle snap shot that Ortio could not control. He had nine goals in 26 games with Winnipeg after arriving in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 11.

After Frolik made it 2-1, Winnipeg goals from Lee Stempniak and Adam Lowry 58 seconds apart in the third period broke open the game to 4-1. Matt Halischuk's goal with 1:01 left in the game finished the scoring.

Stempniak's 15th goal on a wrist shot from the right circle gave the Jets a 3-1 lead at 6:48.

Stempniak, acquired from the New York Rangers on March 1, finished with six goals in 18 games with the Jets.

Lowry's 11th goal came at 7:46 before Halischuk's third goal finished the scoring.

The 18-year-old Bennett joined the Flames on April 3 from Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League. He had 11 goals and 13 assists in 24 OHL games after missing most of the season because of a shoulder injury he sustained in the preseason with Calgary.

Bennett set up Ferland's second goal when he dug out a loose puck behind the Winnipeg net and sent it into the slot, where Ferland put it past Hutchinson. The assist was Bennett’s first point in the League.

"It was definitely really nice to get [the first point] out of the way," Bennett said. "It was a moment I've been waiting for a very long time."

Hartley shuttled Bennett between center and left wing to gauge the rookie's readiness in case he is needed against Vancouver.

"I think that was the most important thing that we wanted to get out of this game, to get him some experience and see how he would handle this," Hartley said.

"We drafted [Bennett] for his talent, his grit, his competitiveness, and that's exactly what we got from him,” Hartley said. "He is a competitor. He wants to be out there. That's big. We want kids that can fit into our culture. We're always talking about our commitment. We're talking about our hard work. Sam Bennett really represents what we're looking for."

Winnipeg will rest Sunday and begin preparing for the franchise's first Playoff appearance since 2007 when it was the Atlanta Thrashers. Maurice became coach in January 2014 and began retooling the Winnipeg dressing room and systems.

"We took the right steps," Byfuglien said. "This group in here has come a long way from the time I [joined the team] and became a close team and stuck together through a lot of ups and downs and [did] the right things."

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