WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP)Connor Hellebuyck made 29 saves for his league-leading sixth shutout of the season, leading the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.
Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist, Kyle Connor got his team-leading 36th goal and Mathieu Perreault also scored for the Jets.
Hellebuyck was sharp, turning the Golden Knights away on several good chances while tying his career high for shutouts, set during the 2017-18 season. He also was helped by three shots hitting posts.
”It’s a great milestone, but it’s a testament to the guys in front of me and how well we’ve been playing,” Hellebuyck said. ”When we bring it, we know we can shut teams down. I thought tonight was a good game.”
It was the second game of a three-game homestand for the Jets, who have won five straight at home to improve to 19-14-3 at Bell MTS Place this season.
”That felt like a typical Winnipeg game,” Hellebuyck said. ”When our crowd gets into it like that, it’s so easy to get some momentum and really carry and push our pace on them. I’m just having a lot of fun and taking every moment in like it might not happen again. So, I’m enjoying it.”
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 20 shots in the loss.
”It’s hard to create desperation,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. ”That’s a desperate team over there. You look at the standings, they need every single point. I don’t know if we feel maybe we don’t, which would be a mistake on our part.”
Winnipeg jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period, starting when Ehlers scored just 32 seconds in. He stickhandled his way behind the Vegas net, then attempted to pass to Laine in front. Instead, the puck went in off the stick of Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves. Laine did get an assist on the goal.
”Playing that kind of game against Vegas is hard,” Laine said. ”They have a really good team. It’s not easy to get points from them. It was huge for us because every point matters from now on.”
Laine gave the Jets a 2-0 lead on the power play at 4:41 of the period. With Nick Cousins off for tripping, Laine pounced on a long rebound off Neil Pionk’s point shot and fired the puck past Fleury. Blake Wheeler also assisted.
Late in the first, Jack Roslovic intercepted a pass inside his own blue line, skated the length of the ice and made a perfect pass to Connor, who beat Fleury cleanly at 18:10. Connor has scored in five consecutive contests.
”(The Jets’ start) was everything,” DeBoer said. ”It was the game. You’ve got one team that started like they’re fighting for their playoff life, and we didn’t. The game was over in the first period.”
Perreault made it 4-0 during a second-period power play. With Jonathan Marchessault off for hooking, Perreault pounced on a loose puck in front of the net and shot it past Fleury.
”We started to play in the second period and cleaned up some of the stuff we wanted to do,” DeBoer said. ”The first period was unacceptable. That’s what happens when you’re playing desperate teams with great goaltending. When you get in a hole like that, it’s hard to come back.”
NOTES: Perreault returned after missing three games with an upper-body injury. … A moment of silence was held before the game to honor Montreal Canadiens legend Henri Richard, who died at 84.
Golden Knights: at Edmonton on Monday night.
Jets: host Arizona on Monday night.
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