WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice and Morgan Barron converted a penalty shot as the Winnipeg Jets beat the New Jersey Devils 6-1 on Sunday.
Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and assist, while Kyle Connor and Nino Niederreiter also scored for the Jets. Blake Wheeler had two assists. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 31 shots in his 60th start of the season.
“We’re sticking to our game and we’re building it,” said Hellebuyck, who got his 34th win. “This is when you want to peak and I think that’s what we’re doing.”
Winnipeg pulled one point behind Seattle for the first Western Conference wild card, though the Kraken have two games in hand.
Nico Hischier spoiled Connor Hellebuyck’s shutout bid when he scored on the power play with 13.9 seconds left. Vitek Vanacek finished with 17 saves for New Jersey before he was replaced by Mackenzie Blackwood to start the third period. Blackwood made four saves in relief.
“They wanted it more,” Hischier said of the Jets. “I think they just out-battled us tonight. But I also think the score was a little too high. We had our chances for sure, but if you give up six goals you’re not winning a hockey game so we’ve got to clean that up.”
The Devils, coming off a win at Chicago on Saturday night, fell to 9-3-0 in the second half of back-to-backs.
“I take nothing (from the game) except disappointment, because when you play back-to-back games you’ve got to be smarter,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “You’ve got to take care of the puck more. We gave up a couple breakaways.”
Winnipeg led 2-0 after the first period and 4-0 following the second.
Ehlers scored 4:59 into the first after Wheeler won a battle for the puck against the boards behind the net and sent the puck to Ehlers alone in the slot.
Ten seconds after a Winnipeg power play expired, Neiderreiter scored his 24th goal of the season off a rebound with 3:45 remaining in the first.
“Even though (the Devils) played last night, you saw their speed and their skill,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “So it was important that we came out of the gate hard and tried to get that lead, which we did. A lot of good things tonight.”
Winnipeg went up 3-0 at 2:42 of the second after Barron got a penalty shot when Devils defenseman Damon Severson held him on a breakaway. Barron skated in on Vanecek and fired the puck low and inside the post.
Connor recorded his 30th goal of the season after Dubois got the puck to him at the front of the net and beat Vanecek at 10:34.
“We had a couple teams come in here on back-to-backs and we’ve been able to rest a little bit,” Wheeler said. “Yeah, hopefully we can keep that momentum going in the right direction and going forward.”
The Devils outshot Winnipeg 14-8 in the middle period, but Hellebuyck made some key saves and his teammates helped him out by blocking shots. The Jets had 16 blocked shots after the second compared to New Jersey’s six.
Ehlers notched his 12th goal of the season when he beat Blackwood stick side with 5:50 remaining, but Hischier recorded his 31st to get the Devils on the board in the final minute.
Barron became the fourth Jets player to score on a penalty shot since the team relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. The others were Bryan Little, Ehlers and Dubois. ... Wheeler’s two assists gave him his 200th multipoint game and 108th multi-assist game. Both are the most in franchise history. ... The game was Winnipeg’s final regular-season meeting with an Eastern Conference team. The Jets finished 15-17-0 against Eastern clubs.
Devils: Host Pittsburgh on Tuesday night to open a two-game homestand.
Jets: Host Calgary on Wednesday night in the third of a five-game homestand.
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