Jets tie best start to season with shutout win over Blackhawks

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Sometimes it is short flashes. At others it was a frontal assault.

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Yet at the start of the 2022-23 campaign, and while trying to master a new system and all of its quirks and features, a Winnipeg Jets team that was both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde managed to find a way to rack up points at a rate that rivals their best starts in years past.

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The final two came on Saturday afternoon following a neat, at times dominant, 4-0 split by the visiting Chicago Blackhawks at the Canada Life Center.

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In doing so, the club got off to a 7-3-1 start, matching their best streak of 11 games to start a season in the 2.0 version of the team.

The Jets have won games this season by the skin of their teeth, holding their own under siege. Saturday was nothing like that. On the contrary, it reflected the consistency demanded by head coach Rick Bowness.

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And when they run as well as the 67-year-old head coach wants, they present a pretty tough outing for all comers.

“In the first period, I think we did well, we built momentum as we went,” said Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg’s top point producer with 11 in the first 11 games. “But we were sticking to our game plan.”
The Jets were solid across the board on Saturday.

The power play went 3-for-4, with Morrissey picking up his first of the season, and Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nate Schmidt also took advantage of the power play superiority.

Shorthanded, the Jets kept a clean sheet, with Chicago going 0-for-3. You could say they were 1-under as well, with Adam Lowry’s third of the year being shorthanded in the second period.

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And speaking of clean sheets, Connor Hellebuyck notched his second shutout of the season, steering him into a three-way tie for the league lead after stopping 30 shots for his 30th career shutout while improving his record in Pounds at 6-2-1 with a save percentage of 0.936 and goals-against-average of 2.09.

“Our details have been accurate,” Hellebuyck said. “We’re getting everyone’s A game right now. We have a lot of character in this room and it’s starting to show. We want to win and we show it.

Indeed, the Jets have lost only once in their last six games, going 5-0-1 over that streak.

They played some of their worst hockey games during that time – see Los Angeles and Vegas for ugly examples – as well as some of their best, including an outstanding 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues a year ago. nearly two weeks, and their last two wins, including Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens.

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“I think the things that we’re trying to see from our team are becoming more and more consistent,” Morrissey said. “I hope we can continue like this. Obviously, we’ll have a huge test on Tuesday night against Dallas. But it is a further step in the right direction. »

The Stars are the best in the Central Division right now with an 8-3-1 record after beating Edmonton on Saturday, two points ahead of the Jets.

He’s setting up a showdown for first place on Tuesday in downtown Winnipeg. A win for the Jets would put them tied with the Stars in points, with the Jets having a game in hand early here. They could also avenge their 4-1 loss in the second game of the season last month.

Morrissey’s first downturn of the season, meanwhile, came at 10:04 of the second, a beating from the point on the power play after the two teams battled to a 0-0 draw in the second. first 30 minutes.

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Lowry’s shortie came just over three minutes later. The assistant captain won the tie in the defensive zone, then took advantage of poor puck handling by Chicago defenseman Caleb Jones at the Blackhawks blue line and ran with Patrick Kane in pursuit, finishing low from the other side of the Chicago starter. Arvid Soderblom.
Soderblom allowed three of 24 shots, including Dubois’ fifth of the season on the power play at 17:55 of the second to give the Jets a 3-0 lead.

The Swedish goalkeeper did not emerge for the third, an apparent illness being the cause. Dylan Wells, a fifth stringer, replaced him to make his NHL debut for a Chicago team that was plagued by injuries in the crease.

Wells was solid given the situation, stopping 12 of 13, including a Kyle Connor breakaway.

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His only flaw came with the Jets on the power play as Schmidt snatched a wrist at 4:59 into the last frame.
Schmidt, who had two goals this year, had a terrific outing, blocking a first-period foot shot that blew his skate protection. He would block another from the penalty spot later in the game.

“You don’t kill penalties unless you’re ready to block shots, and he ate a few pucks,” Bowness said. “It comes down to winning faceoffs, knocking the ice down every chance you get so you don’t put your teammate in a position where they have to eat a puck. But he is fearless. He said to me before the game ‘I like afternoon games, I like afternoon games.’ And he backed it up today.

Hellebuyck’s night was pretty quiet, with the Michigan man’s best save in the third to keep his shutout attempt alive as he sprawled to stop a Jared Tinordi attempt with his right pad.

“He looks fantastic this year,” Morrissey said. “He was lively from the first day of camp. Everything he does, we like to have in our net. If he plays like that and feels like that, it gives our team a ton of confidence. He’s been our rock there for a long time now.

The Jets have Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday. They conclude their three-game home game Tuesday against the Stars, with a puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.

[email protected]

Twitter: @scottbilleck

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