Jets Soar to New Heights in Victory over New York


WINNIPEG, MB. – A Mark Scheifele-less Winnipeg Jets squad hosted Mat Barzal, John Tavares and the New York Islanders Friday night in a high-tempo affair from Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place.

Coming out of the Christmas break, the Jets found themselves on a two-game homestand – certainly a welcomed scheduling benefit for Winnipeg, who had won nine of their last 10 home games heading into Friday’s matchup. Coming off of a 4-3 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, the boys in blue were able to add to their tantalizing home record on Friday, limiting New York to just two goals, in turn doubling up the visitors 4-2.

Building off of a phenomenal Connor Hellebuyck toe save on an Andrew Ladd two-on-one scoring chance less than a minute into the game, the Mark Scheifele-less Winnipeg Jets fired up their engines with two first period goals, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after one period of play.

With Scheifele out of the lineup due to an upper body injury, Shawn Matthias slotting back into the Jets’ roster for the first time since December 3rd. It took him exactly 47 seconds to make an impact in Friday’s game. In his first shift – with 57:28 left to play in the game – Matthias dug the puck out of the corner, went hard to the net, and buried a rebound past Islanders’ goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

With three minutes left in the opening frame, Kyle Conner out-waited a sliding Nick Leddy on a Jets three-on-one, before sending a perfect cross-ice pass to captain Blake Wheeler, who made no mistake burying his 10th of the season, handing Winnipeg a 2-0 lead.

Scheifele’s upper body injury that occurred during Wednesday’s tilt vs. Edmonton meant that there would be two significant lineup changes for Winnipeg. Blake Wheeler moved over to centre to assume his missing linemate’s position, while long-serving healthy scratch, Shawn Matthias drew back into the Jets’ lineup. Clearly those decisions paid off early, as both players found themselves on the scoresheet through one period of work.

Jets Soar to New Heights in Victory over New York

The second period provided an onslaught of Islander shots – one of which beat Hellebuyck and found the twine – an Anders Lee deflection off of a John Tavares slap shot. But after two periods of play, the Jets remained atop the scoreboard 2-1, although heavily trailing in the shot department, 38-24.

Winnipeg upped the tempo in the third period, making the shot count close by limiting the Isles to just six shots in the final stanza. Just three minutes into the period Connor recorded his 12th goal of the season, as he tucked a loose puck past Jaro Halak, restoring the Jets’ two-goal lead.

With Mat Barzal in the box for high sticking, Adam Lowry deflected a Jacob Trouba howitzer top shelf, giving Winnipeg a 4-1 lead. Trouba, who had 12 shot attempts Friday, lead the Jets with six shots on net in just over 26 minutes of ice time.

Anders Lee and the Islanders scored late in the third to cut the Jets’ lead in half, but it was ultimately too little, too late for the visitors who failed to pick up at least one point for the first time in four games.

With a record of 22-11-6, the Winnipeg Jets have now hit the 50-point mark in just 39 games – by far the fewest games needed since returning to Winnipeg. The only other teams to eclipse 49 points so far this season are Tampa Bay (56), Vegas (52) and New Jersey (50), putting Winnipeg in good company.

Winnipeg’s Brandon Tanev was forced to withdraw himself from the Jets’ lineup after just one period of play. He was ruled out of Friday’s contest with a lower body injury.

Following Friday’s victory, the Jets will travel west as they take on the Edmonton Oilers Sunday, before heading south to Colorado for a road matchup with the Avalanche on Tuesday. Sunday’s game will be available on Sportsnet at 6:00 P.M. Winnipeg time, while Tuesday’s game will be broadcasted on TSN3 at 8:00 P.M.

Carter Brooks, Manitoba Post

Photos by James Carey Lauder