Connor scores twice on birthday, Hellebuyck perfect in 3-0 Jets win in Seattle

The Winnipeg Jets made sure their first ever visit to Seattle was a memorable one as they blanked the Kraken 3-0 Thursday night.

Kyle Connor scored twice on his 25th birthday and Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves for his 25th career shutout.

“I look forward to 26,” said Hellebuyck. “I really wanted it. I wanted it for the guys, and everyone is playing hard in front of me. It was a good team game, and I wanted it for everyone.

“About time, about time.”

It was Hellebuyck’s first shutout of the season.

After the Jets surrendered a pair of power play goals in their last outing to the Carolina Hurricanes, the league’s second worst penalty kill was much more aggressive against the Kraken, and finished the night a perfect 5-for-5 while shorthanded.

“We’re the worst PK in the league pretty much,” Brenden Dillon said. “We got to take some pride in that. I think (in) our room we’re prideful guys, and we know, we expect a lot better of ourselves. We know we’ve got better, and I think we just made a couple tweaks.”

“I thought we skated really well,” Connor said. “Just defensively, we didn’t panic. We had a couple shifts in our zone. It’s not running around trying to take guys out, it’s being a little more composed.”

The Jets held a one-goal lead for more than 35 minutes, before Connor scored twice in the third period to seal the deal and give him a team-leading 17 goals on the season.

“I thought we built as the game went on,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “Fragile is not the right word cause I don’t think we are at all, but we were tense in the first I thought, and a little slow moving the puck I thought. And then I thought we built as the game went on. I liked our third an awful lot.”

With one assist, Mark Scheifele is now riding a four-game point streak. He has eight points over that stretch.

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Coming off a rough showing at home Tuesday, the Jets got the scoring started in the first period. The Kraken turned the puck over behind their own net, Paul Stastny took advantage and found Dominic Toninato in the slot who buried it past Philipp Grubauer.

The second period was a goalie duel as both Hellebuyck and Grubauer made a number of good saves, both sides had power play chances but the score stayed at 1-0 after 40 minutes.

That changed right off the bat in the third. Just 47 seconds into the period, Connor was left alone in the slot when Scheifele fed him the puck, and the birthday boy made no mistake.

Holding onto the two-goal lead, Winnipeg gave the Kraken chances to mount a rally by taking multiple penalties. But the much-maligned Jets penalty kill came through, killing both Seattle power plays in the third period.

Connor put the final nail in the coffin with just over five minutes left. A neutral zone turnover by the Kraken led to Connor chipping the puck past the Seattle defence, before he collected it, and roofed it over the shoulder of Grubauer.

READ MORE: Hurricanes stifle Jets 4-2 as special teams continue to struggle

Winnipeg will try to make it two straight wins and four in their last five games when they visit the Vancouver Canucks Friday night to finish the back-to-back. Eric Comrie will start between the pipes for the Jets.

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