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Jets top Devils, spoil Hynes' debut as coach

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Winnipeg Jets have taken a road-warrior mentality to begin the 2015-16 season.

Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd scored in the second period to lead the Jets to their second straight road victory, a 3-1 win Friday at Prudential Center that spoiled John Hynes' debut as New Jersey Devils coach.

"When you get out on the road you want to start putting some wins together and have some fun and I thought we did a good job of finding an even better effort [against New Jersey]," said Ladd, the Jets' captain.

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson made 20 saves for the Jets, now 2-0-0 after opening their season with road wins against the Boston Bruins and the Devils on back-to-back nights. Winnipeg has back-to-back games at the New York Islanders on Monday and the New York Rangers on Tuesday before their home opener against the Calgary Flames on Friday.

"We had a great defensive effort," Hutchinson said. "We blocked a number of their quality scoring chances and our defense did a great job of clearing pucks and limiting their rebounds. Overall I thought I was pretty good with my rebound control, but at the same time whenever there was a rebound, our defense gave me enough time to cover it or move the puck out of the way."

Forward Jiri Tlusty, who played 20 games for the Jets in 2014-15, had a second-period goal for the Devils, and goaltender Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

"We've got to be a lot harder in those 50-50 puck battles, harder on our sticks," Hynes said. "It was that strength on the puck that was lacking."

Winnipeg scored three times each in the second and third periods of their 6-2 win at Boston on Thursday, and Hutchinson felt the Jets built on that performance against New Jersey.

"We started the game against the Devils the way we finished in Boston," he said. "We had a really good first period and just carried the momentum. Last year we were a good first-period team and really took pride in the way we prepared for games. You just have to prepare for each period like you do for the start of the game. We're fortunate the goals are coming are way right now."

The Devils pulled within 2-1 when Tlusty was credited with a power-play goal after his backhand from the slot deflected off the stick of Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba and past Hutchinson at 12:53.

"He was battling hard in front of the net and trying to clear the puck but the puck was rolling and it rolled up on his stick a little bit, hit the post and took an unlucky bounce," Hutchinson said.

Tlusty initiated a give-and-go with Mike Cammalleri in the right circle before making a strong move the net. Lee Stempniak, who also played for the Jets last season, had the secondary assist.

But Hynes felt his team was inconsistent.

"We played the way we wanted to play and had a lot of pressure; we're skating and had some sustained shifts in the offensive zone," Hynes said. "Then there were some times we [were] outcompeted, outbattled on pucks."

New Jersey forward Reid Boucher killed any momentum the Devils may have had after their first goal when he was called for delay of game at 15:21 to give the Jets their third power-play opportunity. Ladd fired a one-timer from the right circle past Schneider one minute later to restore Winnipeg's two-goal lead.

"When they make it 2-1 the crowd was getting into it and they had momentum so we needed to answer back in some way and the power play did a good job of coming up with a big goal," Ladd said. "A big thing for us [on the power play] is how we're moving the puck. I thought we were quick to pucks and created some chances and it was nice to get a few tries at it."

The Devils began pushing the pace in the third and generated four shots during a power-play opportunity late in the period but couldn't beat Hutchinson, who made his first start of the season after Ondrej Pavelec won in Boston.

"I know it was the second game on back-to-back nights, but this was all about how he played for us last year and where he sits in that locker room for me," Jets coach Paul Maurice said of Hutchinson. "He carried the ball for an awfully long time [last season]. There was no doubt in my mind, regardless of what happened against Boston, that we were splitting the goalies in the first two games. We'll how it goes later on."

Trouba helped his goalie with a big block of a shot by Jordin Tootoo at 11:33. The Devils pulled Schneider for an extra attacker with 2:34 remaining and got a 6-on-4 advantage when Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was whistled for tripping with 20 seconds remaining but could not sustain any offensive pressure.

"We gave up a little too many chances [against Boston] and we want to be aggressive and get our defense up in the play, but at the same time we can't risk 2-on-1s or 3-on-2s the other way," Trouba said. "You have to stay with it. Stay tight to the net and have them work around you on the penalty kill. When you get a chance to clear the puck, clear it."

The Jets didn't appear to be fatigued despite playing on back-to-back nights against a team playing its season-opener. Winnipeg outshot New Jersey 12-4 in the scoreless first period, holding New Jersey without a shot in the final 10:45, before Scheifele and Wheeler scored in the opening four minutes of the second, each on a shot from inside left circle.

Scheifele beat Schneider high over the right shoulder at 1:13, and Wheeler's second goal of the season went over Schneider's left shoulder at 3:56.

Six players acquired by new general manager Ray Shero made their debuts for the Devils on Friday: forwards Tlusty, Stempniak, Kyle Palmieri and Sergey Kalinin, as well as defensemen David Schlemko and John Moore.

Hynes, the NHL's youngest coach at age 40, is preaching patience and persistence this season. The Devils have not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since losing in the Final to the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and went 32-36-14 last season.

"It'll take a bit to get [used to Hynes' system], where it's consistent and we're not thinking about it," Devils forward Adam Henrique said. "We know the way he wants us to play the systems. We just didn't execute. We want to play a high-tempo, fast-paced game, and it seemed like we were a little step behind, a little bit off here or there."

The Devils visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

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