The Winnipeg Jets started off their five-game road trip on a winning note with a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night.
And you were hoping for a fast start, you came to the right place.
Carrying the puck into the offensive end, Mathieu Perreault dropped a backhand pass to a trailing Josh Morrissey who fired a wrist shot off the post to give his club a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game.
Something about being down a goal so quickly didn’t sit well with Phillip Danault as he buried a rebound for the Habs to even the game just 82 seconds later.
Trevor Lewis got his second of the year to put Winnipeg back on top just a few minutes later. Neal Pionk sent a perfect saucer pass to the front of the net to a streaking Lewis. Holding off Victor Mete’s defensive effort, Lewis redirected the puck with one hand on his stick sneaking it past Jake Allen on just the fourth shot for the Jets.
Nikolaj Ehlers joined the party with his 16th of the season after Jeff Petry fumbled a bouncing puck giving Ehlers enough room to skate past the Habs defenceman before snapping it home over Allen’s left pad. Ehlers’ goal was the third for the Jets on just six shots. The Winnipeg Jets are 21-1-2 when scoring three goals, and they put three on the board before 15 minutes had passed.
The entire Jets roster stepped up in the absence of captain Blake Wheeler as some shuffled lines saw Jansen Harkins return to the lineup. Wheeler is out indefinitely with a concussion after Brady Tkachuk’s elbow caught the captain up high during Winnipeg’s 4-3 win over Ottawa on Monday.
The second period looked more like a possible playoff game with both teams trading chances as both teams took a few penalties.
In the middle of the second period, Logan Stanley took offence to Corey Perry crosschecking Dylan DeMelo in the numbers. Stanley wanted to get his second NHL fight under his belt, but after a brief conversation with Perry, both sat for two minutes for roughing after neither threw a punch in a fight that Perry clearly wanted no part of. Stanley has four inches and 20 pounds on the veteran winger so don’t blame Perry for not wanting to deal with any overhead blows from the imposing defender.
Montreal kept their shot count well above the Winnipeg Jets for almost the entire game and as the second period wound down, the hometown glass rewarded the persistent Habs. Petry dumped the puck in hitting a stanchion forcing Connor Hellebuyck to scramble back to the front of the net but not before Paul Byron grabbed the loose puck, bringing his team within one with the only goal in the middle frame.
The Habs kept Hellebuyck busy tonight but no direct shots were getting past the reigning Vezina winner so the home team adopted a new game plan for the final frame; collapse the Jets defense and crash the net.
Two minutes into the third, Perry danced his way to the front of the net but couldn’t get a shot off causing a swarm in front of Hellebuyck as everyone looked for the puck before the refs blew the whistle.
The Jets kept up the pressure looking to add some insurance to their lead and improve their promising 14-1-2 record when leading after two periods.
Andrew Copp nearly had his 13th of the year after getting a step on Montreal’s Joel Edmundson but Allen didn’t bite on his deke, steering the puck into the corner keeping his team within one.
Montreal’s dangerous duo of Josh Anderson and Jonathan Drouin nearly knotted the game up midway through the third after Drouin toe-dragged a sliding Tucker Poolman and Anderson banged a loose puck just shy of the post.
They kept at it with the Perry – Suzuki – Toffoli line, hemming the Jets into their own zone for more than a minute with a number of high-percentage chances before an icing call was waved off allowing the Jets.
Momentum took a drastic shift with just over four minutes to play when Suzuki’s stick caught Mason Appleton up high handing the Jets a man-advantage as they looked reclaim their two-goal advantage.
The second shot of the ensuing power play was blasted off of Kyle Connor’s stick, hitting Allen in the mask snapping a strap to keep the faceoff in Montreal’s end. The Jets sent three shots at Allen, but nothing got past the netminder as the penalty came to an end and Allen headed for the bench.
With the net empty, Copp took a pass from Connor in the neutral zone and buried his 13th of the season to give the Jets a 4-2 win.
The Jets look for a repeat performance Saturday night against the Habs as they continue to battle for top spot in the North Division. The pregame show begins at 4 p.m. on 680 CJOB with the puck dropping shortly after 6 p.m.
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