Connor, Scheifele, Wheeler help Jets beat Red Wings 6-2
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler each had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 on Friday night.
Dylan DeMelo and Nikolaj Ehlers also had a goal and an assist, and Nino Niederreiter also scored as Winnipeg snapped a two-game skid. Mason Appleton and Vladislav Namestnikov each had two assists and Connor Hellebuyck finished with 23 saves.
Wheeler ended a 21-game goal-scoring drought, Scheifele scored for the first time in 10 games, and Connor had his third score in 19 games.
“You need some breaks,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “Look at Mark (Scheifele’s) goal. All of a sudden he’s coming around the net, he knocks it in. It’s there. We haven’t had those breaks in a long time. Even that first goal, the tip (by Connor). We haven’t had that luck around the net in a long time and it was good to see.”
David Perron and Joe Veleno scored 21 seconds apart midway through the third period for Detroit, and Magnus Hellberg had 23 saves. The Red Wings snapped a two-game win streak and lost for the sixth time in nine games.
“I think we had a tough start, but I don’t think I showed up to help the team win today,” said Hellberg, who played his 17th game this season. “I take full responsibility for my performance tonight. It was clearly not good enough. I’m not happy with how I played.”
Connor gave the Jets a 1-0 lead at 6:56 of the first period as he tipped Brenden Dillon's point shot past Hellberg's blocker side for his 29th goal of the season.
Wheeler got his 16th with 8:03 left in the first as he got a cross-ice pass from Nikolaj Ehlers and beat Hellberg from the right side.
“That’s the best he’s skated in a while,” Bowness said. ”I think the goal certainly gave him a big boost. The guys were all very happy for him. It gave the whole bench a boost.”
Scheifele made it 3-0 a little more than 90 seconds later as he picked up a loose puck on the left side and quickly put it in for his career-best and team-leading 39th.
DeMelo added to the Jets' lead at 1:20 of the second as he fired a shot from the slot past Hellberg for his fifth, and Niederreiter got his own rebound and scored on a backhander for his 23rd with 6:18 remaining in the period.
Ehlers pushed the lead to 6-0 at 5:07 of the third with a shot from the slot that went inside the post for his 10th.
“Our first look was an east-west backdoor play that we weren’t able to finish and their first look was a deflection that went in,” Detroit head coach Derek Lalonde said. “We couldn’t build any momentum throughout the night. I do appreciate the fact that we won the third period. We kind of battled and hung in there.”
Perron got Detroit on the scoreboard during a power play at 10:41 of the third for his 20th. Veleno followed 21 seconds later with his eighth.
Jets coach Rick Bowness has been preaching offense lately and changed his top line for the game to try to spark some productive shooting. Scheifele moved from center to right wing, with Pierre-Luc Dubois in the middle and Connor on the left.
The changes all worked.
“It’s different, for sure,” Scheifele said of the switch. “I’ve played centre my whole life. It’s definitely an adjustment. But when you play with two good players like (Dubois) and (Connor) it makes it easy.”
The last time Winnipeg scored more than three goals was in a 5-4 overtime win at Florida on March 11.
Red Wings: At Toronto on Sunday in the second of a three-game trip.
Jets: Host New Jersey on Sunday in the second of a five-game homestand.
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