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Morrow in role of playoff hero with Jets

Rare goal elevates defenseman into lofty territory heading into Game 2 against Wild

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- In the time from the opening face-off to the final buzzer Wednesday, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Joe Morrow went from depth defenseman to local hero.

Scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round will do that. Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVAS2, FS-N).

Morrow was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 26 and scored eight goals for three teams over four NHL seasons. 

He has shown an ability to be a quick study with a new team in a new city. That has included getting to know defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who has been Morrow's partner since the trade that sent Montreal a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

 

[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Wild series coverage]

 

"Right when I got traded here, I got to sit beside [Byfuglien] and got to understand him as a person and how he thinks and operates," Morrow said. "He plays a pretty risky game, which works for him because he's a big boy (6-foot-5, 260 pounds), highly skilled, a great offense-creating defenseman, so he plays an unorthodox game.

"But getting to know him as a person and realizing that if I have to stray away from a game I like to play a little bit and that makes us both successful, that's just what you have to do. It's what you get slotted in as. That's how I've done it."

Morrow was the No. 23 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins but never played for them. He was traded to the Dallas Stars on March 24, 2013, and three months later was traded to the Boston Bruins. He played 65 games over three seasons with Boston.

Video: MIN@WPG, Gm1: Morrow puts Jets ahead in the 3rd

He signed with the Canadiens as a free agent July 1, 2017, before being acquired by the Jets.

"If you believe in karma and trying to be a good person and eventually you get rewarded for it? Yeah, absolutely," Morrow said. "I've had a major roller coaster of an NHL career so far. To have a little, I don't even know if you want to call it a Cinderella story of a night [on Wednesday], it makes you feel good. It makes all of the bad times and all of the times you've battled so hard to try and get an opportunity, it makes them go away. It washes them away and you get to enjoy it in front of a crowd like this and a city like this."

Byfuglien said, "He keeps the game pretty simple. If you talk to him a lot, he knows how to read the game very well. He keeps it pretty simple out there."

With defensemen Toby Enstrom (lower body) and Dmitry Kulikov (back) sidelined, Morrow has proven key, as has his chemistry with Byfuglien.

"With some injuries in our lineup, he's been able to step in and play a role that suits him a little better," Jets captainBlake Wheeler said. "With Dustin Byfuglien, maybe a little more of an offensive role. Moves the puck really well. You could tell once he started playing with [Byfuglien], his confidence started growing and he started to make some plays out there."

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