Hellebuyck notches shutout as Jets thrash Sens
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — If the Sunday night game between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators were a boxing fight, it would have been stopped early as the visitors were up against the ropes taking haymakers from the opening faceoff.
The home team was a thoroughly rude host, not only winning 5-0 but outplaying the Senators (9-10-6) in all facets of the game and in all areas of the ice and outshooting them 49-21.
The Jets improved to 17-6-4, good for 38 points, one ahead of the Los Angeles Kings atop the Western Conference.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped every puck directed his way to record his first shutout this year and 15th win of the season, tied for second in the league. Ottawa goalie Mike Condon was pulled after giving up five goals on 22 shots. Craig Anderson weathered the storm the rest of the way, stopping all 27 shots he faced.
The Jets scored a trio of power-play goals for the second consecutive game while also killing off all three penalties they were assessed. Captain Blake Wheeler led the way with a goal and three assists, while Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists and Mathieu Perreault finished with a goal and an assist. Patrik Laine and Tyler Myers added goals.
“It was maybe one of the most dominating performances I’ve been part of in this league, to be honest,” said Perreault, who moved up to the Jets’ top line with Scheifele and Wheeler. He replaced Kyle Connor, who is listed as day-to-day with an injury after blocking a shot Friday night in a win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
“From the first minute, we took over the game. I think, at one point, the shots were 40-something to 15. We were in their end the whole game. Our gap was tremendous. We didn’t give them nothing. They had a couple chances, and (Hellebuyck) shut the door. Other than that, we really had control of the game the whole time.”
Jets coach Paul Maurice agreed, saying the Sunday night game could have been his team’s most complete effort of the season.
“We were pretty solid right through,” Maurice said. “I thought it was a real powerful, long start. There was a good 25 or 30 minutes there, and then the game changes. It’s not the same kind of game. It was a real good game for us. But at 5-0 the bench is coaching itself, they’re talking to each other about what they want to get done. They really didn’t change much. They stayed on it.
“It was a good win. That wasn’t Ottawa’s best game. They’re capable of some better hockey. So it was just a 60-minute two-pointer. We forget this one as fast as we played it.”
Wheeler said it is fun to play with the man-advantage when the power play unit is moving the puck so well and having so much success.
“We’re blessed, really,” he said. “Laine and Scheifele are two of the better right-hand shots in the world, and they’re on the same power-play unit so it makes a really tough matchup to take both of them away.”
Wheeler, who leads the NHL with 28 assists, two more than Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, obviously needs a few lessons in self-marketing and promotion.
“It’s not what I’m out here trying to do, to be honest with you. It’s about trying to play how we’re trying to play every single night,” he said. “That’s the gist of what Scheifele and I have tried to do this year, play fast, play hard every single night. When we’re doing that, we’re going to create chances. Sometimes they’re all going to seem to go in, but even on nights where they’re not going in, we still want to have an impact on the game,” he said.
Despite the on-ice dominance, it was not as if Hellebuyck was handed the shutout. He made a number of highlight-reel saves, including one from in close on right winger Mark Stone in the second period and another off a one-timer in the slot off from left winger Ryan Dzingel midway through the third period.
“I reached for the pokecheck (on Dzingel) and I missed. His eyes kind of lit up and I got my glove there and thank God he hit it,” he said.
Senators coach Guy Boucher said his team wasn’t very smart from the opening faceoff, lowlighted by taking a too-many-men penalty just over two minutes into the game, opening the door for the Jets to score their first power-play goal of the night by Scheifele.
“We took a penalty on a changeup for no reason, two guys changing for the same guy,” Boucher said. “We took some other penalties. We didn’t play well on the penalty kill. We weren’t menacing on the power play, either. The work ethic wasn’t as high as theirs. Right now, (the Jets) are firing from all cylinders and they play great and we did not at all, so that’s a recipe for disaster and we’ve got to move on.”
Ottawa center Nate Thompson agreed with his coach’s assessment.
“That’s a really good hockey team and they made us look like a mite team out there,” he said, referring to community club teams of 8-year-olds and younger.
NOTES: Jets LW Shawn Matthias exchanged his press-box pass for a jersey, replacing LW Kyle Connor, who is out day-to-day after blocking a shot on Friday night against Vegas. ... The Jets have the fourth-best power play in the NHL with a success rate of 25.6 percent. The Senators, meanwhile, are clicking at 17.4 percent. ... The Senators have an efficiency rate of 79.4 percent on the penalty kill. ... The Jets have one of the best home records in the NHL this season, 10-2-1, good for a .792 winning percentage. ... Senators RW Mark Stone had a large contingent of hometown friends and family in the stands at Bell MTS Place.