Jets double up Islanders 4-2

Saturday, 30 December 2017 03:44 Written by  Published in Game Stories Read 102 times
Winnipeg, Manitoba (NHN)-Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor and Adam Lowry each scored a goal and an assist to pace the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders Friday night. Shawn Matthias also scored for Winnipeg. Patrick Laine had a pair of assists for the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 42 shots to pick up the win for Winnipeg (22-11-6) along with his 20th victory of the season. The win vaulted the Jets into first place in the Central division with 50 points, one more than the Nashville Predators and second overall in the Western Conference to the Vegas Golden Knights who have 52 on the season. Anders Lee scored for the Islanders, who dropped to 20-14-4. Jaroslav Halak stopped 33 shots for New York, who opened up a two-game road trip with a loss. The Islanders travel to Colorado Sunday. Winnipeg visits Edmonton on Sunday. Shawn Matthias scored 2:32 into the opening period to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead. Matthias drove the net hard from the corner and knocked a loose puck between Jaroslav Halak's pads to score his first goal of the season. Matthias drew into the lineup after Mark Scheifele was injured against the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday night after seeing action once in the past 21 games for Winnipeg. Adam Lowry attempted to stuff the disc in the short side but the puck was left in the crease which Matthias slid past the Islanders goaltender. “It was awesome," said Jets captain Blake Wheeler of Matthias's goal. "It’s a testament to guys being good teammates, staying with it and staying in the fight. It’s probably the least enjoyable part of this job, when you’re out of the lineup, you’re working out every day, you’re getting skated and sometimes it seems like the end (of being a healthy scratch) is nowhere in sight. But you can tell those guys work really hard at it. That’s the payoff right there, a guy jumps back in the lineup and scores a big goal for us.” Blake Wheeler made it 2-0 with just over three minutes to go in the first period when he converted a Kyle Connor feed after the Jets got a hold of a loose puck in the neutral zone and hit the blue line flying. Connor broke into the zone with speed before hitting a hard driving Wheeler with a pass which the Jet captain promptly shovelled past Halak. The goal was his 10th of the season. Anders Lee pulled the Islanders to within a goal at 14:46 of the second period as he tipped in a John Tavares shot, redirecting it past Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to make it 2-1. Kyle Connor gave Winnipeg a two-goal cushion just over three minutes into the third period, sliding a puck past Halak which deflected off a defenceman's skate in front to score his 12th goal of the season at 3:01. With Matthew Barzal off for high sticking the Jets took full advantage as Adam Lowry screened Halak and tipped a Jacob Trouba blast past him to give Winnipeg a commanding three-goal lead to make it 4-1. The goal was his 8th of the season. Anders Lee scored with 3:32 left in regulation to pull the Islanders within two after he scooped up a rebound off a Ryan Pulock shot from the point and lifted a backhander past a sprawled Hellebuyck to make it 4-2. The goal was his team leading 24th of the season. Islanders Head Coach Doug Weight was happy with his club's effort but said Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was the difference. "You know we had some point blank chances where we got a lot of wood on the puck and he (Hellebuyck) was incredible. It was kind of what you heard been going on in this building. They're a tough team to play here. Obviously a good team, not just a goalie. "But tonight he was by far their best player," Weight added. "We were a little bit off," said Anders Lee, who scored twice in the contest. "They (Jets) pack it in really nice and tight around the net and that makes it difficult to get shots through. And sometimes that opens up lanes up top and we get caught passing a little bit like that." "We did what we could to get pucks to the net but they just got rid of them," he added. Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice was happy with the result but felt his club gave up too many chances. “Overall, really well. I think Connor Hellebuyck had a big piece of that early and really held us in that so we didn’t start almost the same way in the last game. And then we got better, so our overall game after that (was) pretty good. They’re the second-best offensive team in the league and you know why. They made plays in our end of the ice that we don’t see a lot of teams make against us. I think, and this is not to be disrespectful to Mark in any way, that kind of game we might have missed (Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom). There were more plays out of corners that are a challenge. I liked the way our backend played. We gave up way more than I’m comfortable, so I’m not saying it was a perfect defensive game by any means, our goalie had to be a big piece of that, but overall there were lots of really good things." SHOTS-NEW YORK 44 WINNIPEG 37 ATTENDANCE-15,294
Last modified on Saturday, 30 December 2017 04:47
Philip Paul-Martin

A well rounded journalist with experience in both print and broadcast mediums, Philip has written news stories with impact, broken national news while at the CBC, anchored radio news and hosted talk show radio. His coverage includes feature writing, game stories and more in-depth pieces during the off-season as well as writing about the National Hockey League and the Winnipeg Jets. He calls Winnipeg, Canada home.