Ducks get shut out by red-hot Jets in physical game
Much of the success the Winnipeg Jets have had this month has been the result of a high-powered offense.
But when called on, goalie Connor Hellebuyck and a reconfigured defense can deliver.
Hellebuyck made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season, Neal Pionk had a power-play goal, and the Jets continued their torrid November with a 3-0 victory over the Ducks on Friday at Honda Center.
The Jets have won three straight and are 10-2-1 this month with one game to play.
“I think we’re winning in all kinds of ways, which is nice,” Pionk said. “I think about a month ago in San Jose, Connor Hellebuyck made about 50 saves, we came out with a win. And then there’s nights like we had the other night in San Jose. So when you’re finding ways to win, I think that’s the sign of a good team.”
Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor also scored for the Jets. Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine each had two assists.
John Gibson made 17 saves for the Ducks.
The Sharks scored four goals before the Kings got on the scoreboard late in the third period, and Los Angeles fell 4-1 in a Friday matinee game.
Winnipeg played most of the game with five defensemen after Dmitry Kulikov sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return. It was the second time this week the Jets finished a game without a full complement of defensemen after seeing out a 4-3 victory over Columbus on Saturday with four players on the back end.
“I think it shows that we’re able to adapt,” Pionk said. “It just means that we’re simple from the back end, and then the forwards are simple too. That gives us the opportunity to change and keep ourselves fresh.”
That ability to adjust extends to offense for Pionk, who put the Jets up 1-0 at 1:08 of the second period when he scored on a slap shot from the blue line during a power play. Gibson could not see it through the screen set by Connor.
Pionk finds himself on the power play because of the ongoing absence of Dustin Byfuglien, who did not report to the team for training camp. Jets coach Paul Maurice said Pionk’s willingness to put shots toward the net has helped reduce the dependence on Wheeler, Laine and Mark Scheifele for power-play production.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you shoot it if it doesn’t hit the net,” Maurice said. “That puck’s got to get to the net, and Neal is really good at placing that shot.“
Ehlers made it 2-0 at 9:13 by scoring for the fifth time in seven games, and Connor extended the lead 1:51 into the third on a one-timer from Scheifele, which was more than enough support for Hellebuyck.
“I think it starts with Helle,” Pionk said. “We have trust in him and he has trust in us, so if we can keep shots to the perimeter, keep them to the outside, he’s a good goalie, he’s going to stop them.”
Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters resigned Friday amid accusations he directed racist slurs toward a player and kicked and punched others.
The Ducks had chances to take the lead in the first period, including a video review of a shot by center Sam Steel at 5:15 that concluded the whistle blew to stop play before the puck crossed the line. Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said the inability to capitalize early was the difference in a physical game in which tempers flared.
“We really needed one of those to go in tonight,” Eakins said. “It was one of those games that I just thought whoever was going to score that first goal was probably going to have a pretty good chance at winning it, and obviously we didn’t get it.”
Kulikov will undergo further evaluation Saturday, Maurice said. The Jets are 6-1 in their past seven road games. Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson was called for 29 minutes in penalties, including a 10-minute misconduct after instigating a fight in the first and another 10-minute misconduct in the third.
Jets: At the Kings on Saturday night.
Ducks: Host the Kings on Monday night.
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