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Bryan Little lifts Jets past Islanders

Winnipeg forward scores two goals; New York loses grip of second wild card

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- Bryan Little scored two goals to help the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Thursday.

Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry scored in the second period, and Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves for the Jets (31-33-7), who were 0-3-1 in their previous four games. Winnipeg is 10 points behind the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Little scored twice in a span of 9:13 during the first period after Adam Pelech gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 38 seconds into the game.

"My linemates did a really good job of getting pucks turned over," Little said. "That's the way it goes sometimes."

 

WATCH: All Jets vs. Islanders highlights

 

New York (33-26-11) lost for the third time in four games. The Islanders fell one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs won 5-0 at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Tampa Bay and the Islanders are even in points, but New York has two more regulation/overtime wins.

The Islanders have been in desperation mode for most of the second half of the season after a poor start, and coach Doug Weight said his players might have tried to do too much after falling behind.

"It's a good thing to be in these games where you have to lay it on the line," Weight said. "But there's times when, especially with 13 or 12 games remaining and the circumstances we're in; it gets to be 3-1 and everybody tries to do a little bit extra and it maybe becomes a little detrimental."

Video: WPG@NYI: Little bangs a rebound past Greiss

The Islanders started fast when Pelech took a straightaway wrist shot from just inside the blue line that floated past Hellebuyck. It was Pelech's second NHL goal and first since Nov. 22.

Winnipeg tied it at 9:22 when Little put the puck into the open left side of the net after picking up the carom of Nikolaj Ehlers' shot off the post. He gave the Jets a 2-1 lead at 18:35 with a power-play goal, beating goalie Thomas Greiss from the right circle for his 20th of the season.

Perreault made it 3-1 at 3:24, scoring his eighth goal of the season on a wrist shot from the left circle. Lowry shot his own rebound past Greiss at 11:31 to give the Jets a 4-1 lead.

"They had a few shifts in our end where they were cycling around and had some chances," Little said. "But for the most part, we did a good job keeping them on the outside and when we did have a breakdown, Hellebuyck came up with some really big saves."

Anders Lee scored his 26th goal of the season 1:02 into the third period to make it 4-2.

Greiss made 24 saves.

Video: WPG@NYI: Greiss slides across to rob Dano with pad

 

Goal of the game

Little's second goal was a perfectly placed wrist shot that caught the far side after Nic Petan's drop pass.

Video: WPG@NYI: Little cranks home his second of the game

 

Save of the game 

Hellebuyck preserved Winnipeg's 4-2 lead when Strome was alone between the circles and took a wrist shot that Hellebuyck nabbed with his catching glove with 5:59 remaining. Strome had lifted his stick in celebration.

 

Highlight of the game

The Islanders were leading 1-0 and on a power play when Hellebuyck and defenseman Mark Stuart combined to keep John Tavares from giving New York a two-goal lead. Hellebuyck got over to the left post to stop Tavares' wrist shot from the right circle; the puck came right back to him, but Stuart got in front of the shot.

Video: WPG@NYI: Hellebuyck kicks out his pad to rob Tavares

 

Unsung performance of the game 

Little won 10 of 13 faceoffs. The other four Jets who took draws were 11-for-33.

 

They said it

"It's hard to celebrate anything. We're in a tough spot. Now we're just trying to get better as a team and work on things. It's hard to celebrate personal achievements." -- Jets forward Bryan Little on scoring his 20th goal of the season

 

"We looked a little bit like a tired team, mentally. We looked like a team that's practiced twice in the past 25 days. They were rolling off us. They were quicker to the puck, and our structure wasn't good." -- Islanders coach Doug Weight

 

"We just dug ourselves into another hole, like we've done lately. A couple times, we've dug ourselves out of it, but it's hard to do that game in and game out at this time of year." -- Islanders captain John Tavares

 

Need to know

It was the ninth game in 15 days for the Islanders. … The Jets helped Hellebuyck by blocking 20 shots, including four by defenseman Josh Morrissey. … Winnipeg entered the game 28th in the NHL in penalty killing but held the Islanders scoreless in four power plays.

 

What's next

Jets: Host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV)

Islanders: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-O, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Little scores twice in Jets' 4-2 road win vs. Isles

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