If the hockey world needed further validation that the Winnipeg Jets’ strong start to the season was no fluke, how about a convincing win over the defending champs?
Winnipeg’s stars shone brightest Tuesday night as the Jets handled the Colorado Avalanche 5-0 to improve to 14-6-1 on the season.
Blake Wheeler recorded his fourth career hat trick and finished with a four-point night as the Jets won their third straight game to open the four-game homestand, while beating the Stanley Cup champions for the second time this season.
“No, it’s not just another game,” said head coach Rick Bowness. “I think the message that we’re trying to send here is make them worry about us. Everybody is okay, they’re the defending Stanley Cup champions – yeah, they’re a great hockey team and they are.
“But I think we’re starting to realize that when we play the right way, and we play the way we’re supposed to play and play together – that we’re a very, very good hockey club.”
The victory moved the Jets within a single point of the Central Division leading Dallas Stars. The Jets are now 8-2 on the season against divisional opponents.
“We’ve liked the way we’ve played,” said Wheeler. “A little sluggish in the first period coming off the road, but kinda to be expected. We just want to continue to build our game and perform obviously at home in front of our fans. And tonight was a good step in that direction.”
Connor Hellebuyck made 40 stops for his third shutout of the season and the 31st of his career.
“They can buzz, they’re a good team over there,” said Hellebuyck. “And they move the puck well and move around our zone. But everything was controlled where I was getting it. And the guys that battled so hard in front of me for those rebounds. I felt I was part of the win tonight and that’s a good team win.”
Josh Morrissey continued his torrid pace to start the season with another goal and an assist. He’s now scored four markers in his last five games. He’s also enjoying a five-game point streak with nine points over that span.
The Jets killed off all three of their penalties against the league’s most potent power play.
Wheeler got the scoring started for the home side on the power play when he ripped a wrister through Alexander Georgiev at 9:18 of the first, one of only four shots for Winnipeg in the period.
The Jets thought they had a 2-0 lead soon after when Mark Scheifele tapped home a loose puck, but a Colorado challenge overturned the goal as officials decided that Wheeler interfered with Georgiev before Scheifele scored.
But early in the second, the Jets made it 2-0 for real, as Morrissey continued his torrid offensive stretch when he blasted a shot from the point past Georgiev.
Later in the period, Scheifele then found Cole Perfetti streaking toward the Avs goal, who then slid a perfect feed to Wheeler to whack into the open net.
Now, it has to be mentioned that the Jets have blown multi-goal third period leads twice in their last four games, only to win the game in OT.
There would be no such drama on this night.
Scheifele finished off a 2-on-1 with Kyle Connor just 82 seconds into the third to give the Jets a 4-0 lead that the Avalanche could not chip into.
Wheeler added his third of the night for good measure late in the third for his first hat-trick since 2019.
Winnipeg is now off until Friday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pregame show begins at 5 p.m. on 680 CJOB, with the puck dropping just after 7 p.m.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.