Recap: Kraken @ Jets 4.16.24

WINNIPEG -- Kyle Connor scored two goals, and the Winnipeg Jets clinched second place in the Central Division with a 4-3 win against the Seattle Kraken at Canada Life Centre on Tuesday.

“For everybody here and in our team game, we know what it takes to win,” Connor said. “We kind of found ourselves an identity and I feel like we missed that last month and [we are] really, really, showing what it takes to win.”

Winnipeg will have home-ice advantage against the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“[It’s] nice to get it out of the way in this game,” Connor said of clinching home-ice advantage. “I thought we stuck with it, you know, ups and downs in the game. No matter what we stuck up for each other, supported each other when we didn't make the plays that we needed to, and just a kind of gritty win there to pull it out.”

Nikolaj Ehlers and Tyler Toffoli each had a goal and an assist, and Connor Hellebuyck made 20 saves for the Jets (51-24-6), who have won seven straight. Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk and Mark Scheifele each had two assists.

"That was something that was our objective once we got later on in the season -- OK, we have a shot at getting home ice, let’s go for it,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “Give the guys a lot of credit, they buckled down and we got it. I think it’s important for us to be able to do that.”

SEA@WPG: Toffoli buries a backhand for PPG and 4-3 lead

Yanni Gourde had a goal and an assist, and Philipp Grubauer made 20 saves for the Kraken (33-35-13), who have lost four in a row.

“Our entire team fought hard tonight,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “Regardless of anything else, we’re in a situation where we’ve dug out of a two-goal deficit [and] got ourselves back to even. We take a careless penalty and that’s the difference in a hockey game like this.”

Toffoli put Winnipeg ahead 4-3 on the power play at 11:40 of the third period. He took a pass from Ehlers in the slot and scored with a backhand around Grubauer’s right skate.

“We did a heck of a job for the first minute and 50 of the (penalty) kill, but they found a spot inside and found the game-winner on that,” Hakstol said. “But in terms of compete and battle level and level of focus, there’s always going to be mistakes made. But our ability to work and stay in the fight, stay in the battle and stay consistent was good tonight.”

Connor gave the Jets a 1-0 lead at 10:33 of the first period. Scheifele fed him from behind the net with a backhand pass for a quick shot from the side of the crease.

“I see [Connor] skating really well at both ends of the ice. He really is,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “That tells you that he’s engaged in the game. There have been some great back checks. I know he's scoring goals and creating things, but watch how hard that he comes back. When you see that in your player, you know that you’re totally engaged and he’s an elite offensive player, that when he’s engaged in the game, he’s going to get those opportunities and he’s going to bury them.”

Tomas Tatar tied it 1-1 at 18:38 with a shot from the right face-off circle on the rush.

“I think we just kept pushing,” Kraken forward Oliver Bjorkstrand said. “I think we played a pretty good game. I think we’re close, so some good things.”

Connor put Winnipeg back in front 2-1 with six seconds left, scoring from the bottom of the right circle.

“[Morrissey] made a great pass there,” Connor said. “The way they defend with the center release, I just kind of get lost a little bit behind them, and I think everybody just thought [Morrissey] was shooting that one. He did a really good fake and found some free ice down there.”

SEA@WPG: Connor scores his second goal of the game

Ehlers extended it to 3-1 at 2:30 of the second period. After his initial shot hit Kraken defenseman Justin Schultz in the shoulder and flipped over Grubauer’s head, Ehlers banged in the loose puck in the crease.

“[We are] very close, I mean, the last few games have been great,” Ehlers said. “But a lot of the game today, besides the second period, was really good. The second period, we play like that in the playoffs, it's not going to be very good. But it's also not horrible to take that period, look at it and talk about it. So I think we're close, but no matter how close we get it's never going to be perfect. And we’ve got to keep working out our game.”

Gourde cut it to 3-2 at 5:11 with a deflection of Ryker Evans’ point shot.

“Obviously they’re a good team,” Kraken forward Tye Kartye said. “I think it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’ve got to bring that every night. It’s a good team over there and it was a pretty good effort by us.”

Kartye tied it 3-3 at 18:13. Gourde stole the puck from Pionk, then froze Hellebuyck with a fake before sliding it over to Kartye for a one-timer on the 2-on-0.

“He works hard, he battles, and on top of that he makes plays and creates chances,” Bjorkstrand said of Kartye. “It helps when he’s out there battling and hitting guys. It creates momentum for the team. He does that well and it opens up space for his linemates. … It’s good, and he’s only going to get better.”

Winnipeg forward Morgan Barron left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.

“We’ll probably know more tomorrow morning,” Bowness said. “We’ve got to get him re-evaluated.”

NOTES: Each team has one regular-season game remaining. … Six of the past seven games between Seattle and Winnipeg have been decided by one goal. …  The Jets are 7-2-0 against the Kraken since Seattle entered the NHL in 2021-22. … Winnipeg can tie its franchise record of 52 wins (2017-18) when it hosts the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. … Connor has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) during an eight-game point streak. … Ehlers has five points (two goals, three assists) during a three-game point streak.