Captain Blake Wheeler and Adam Lowry ensured the Winnipeg Jets losing streak ended in Calgary. The veterans each scored a pair of goals to lift their team to a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.
Winnipeg clinched a playoff spot with the win and moved two points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens for third place in the North Division.
“That’s kinda the goal at the start of the year is playoffs,” said Lowry. “And anything can happen when you get there. It’s nice to have that behind us. It was a long couple weeks and there was some frustrating moments. But I think the last couple games we’ve turned the corner, and we’ve played a lot better. We’re gonna look to build off that.”
But just as important as locking up a post-season berth was getting the winning feeling back again, finally ending their seven-game losing skid.
“It’s nice for everyone to get a result tonight,” Wheeler said. “I think our game has been way better the last few games, and it was really important for our team to get rewarded, so it was a good result for us tonight.”
Wheeler collected his 800th career point when he bagged his second marker in the third period. Mark Scheifele picked up an assist on that goal as he recorded his 500th NHL point. Wheeler said Scheifele can have the puck as the win was way more important than another milestone.
“It doesn’t mean anything to be honest with you,” said Wheeler. “This night belongs to our team and the fact that we’re going back to the playoffs. That’s all I play for, especially at this part of my career – is just having opportunities to achieve the ultimate goal. That’s what makes this night special.”
Wheeler is now riding a five-game point streak.
The Jets also ended an 0-for-11 stretch on the powerplay with Wheeler’s third period goal.
Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves for the shutout in the Jets’ first victory since April 15. It was his third shutout of the season and the 23rd of his career.
“I think if you draw up a perfect game, this is pretty dang close to it,” said Hellebuyck. “It’s weird because, I’m not over here thinking, oh, we just broke our streak. I’m over here thinking we played a heck of a game and I’m looking forward here.
“It’s almost like I cut the cord. It’s a whole new season now.”
The Jets made two lineup changes prior to the game as Ville Heinola and Jansen Harkins were re-inserted back into the lineup. Heinola logged just under 14 minutes of ice time on a pairing with Dylan DeMelo. It was just Heinola’s third game of the season, but the Jets have yet to lose with him in the lineup.
Logan Stanley and Kristian Vesalainen were both scratched.
Lowry got the Jets rolling early, scoring just over a minute into the game on Winnipeg’s first shot on goal. The centreman carried the puck over the blue line and looked off a pass to Mason Appleton before beating Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom on the glove side with a shot.
The goal came in a period where the shot count stayed low despite the Jets’ attempts to increase their lead. Winnipeg outshot Calgary 7-6 in the frame with the Flames’ skaters registering seven blocked shots. Calgary didn’t have a shot on goal until the halfway mark of the period.
The second period started just like the first, with a goal from Jets centre Lowry, once again on the team’s first shot of the period.
This time, the Jets were killing a penalty when Andrew Copp broke up the Flames’ zone entry, DeMelo flipped the puck to Lowry, who looked more like an elite scorer than a penalty killer as he deked out Markstrom and slid the puck between the Calgary goalie’s legs for his second of the night.
Winnipeg wasn’t done there as Wheeler added a goal late in the second to give the Jets a 3-0 lead. When the Flames failed to keep a bouncing puck in the Jets zone, the captain jumped on the opportunity and outskated the Calgary defensemen for the breakaway, beating Markstrom on the backhand.
Wheeler would add to his total as the Jets opened the third period with yet another early goal. On a Winnipeg powerplay, Scheifele found Wheeler alone in front of the net and he calmly transferred the puck to his backhand and beat Markstrom to give the Jets a four-goal lead.
The Jets would cruise from there, killing off a Josh Morrissey double minor at the midway point of the third to preserve the win and the shutout for their goaltender.
While his team gave him a nice cushion to work with, Hellebuyck still had to come up big when called upon. He robbed Elias Lindholm with his glove in the first period and made another tough stop on Andrew Mangiapane in the third. After being outshot in the first, Calgary went on to outshoot Winnipeg 9-5 in the second period and 16-7 in the third.
Markstrom made 15 saves on 19 Jets shots in a losing effort while Flames star Johnny Gaudreau saw his seven-game point streak come to an end.
The win rounds out Winnipeg’s final road trip as they went 17-10-1 away from home in the 2021 season. They start a four-game homestand to wrap up the regular season on Saturday night against Ottawa. You can listen to the game live on 680 CJOB with Kelly Moore, Paul Edmonds, and Jamie Thomas with the pregame show starting at 4 p.m. and puck drop just after 6 p.m.
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