WINNIPEG, MB - The Winnipeg Jets red-hot power play continued Friday night as they were able to find the back of the net twice with the man advantage to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 at Bell MTS Place.
The win moves the Jets back into top spot in the Central Division standings with 55 points, one point ahead of the idle St. Louis Blues.
Dustin Byfuglien, playing in just his second game back since returning from injury, scored his first of the season on the power play, letting go a bullet from the point that beat Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson and igniting the crowd at Bell MTS Place. The celebrations were short-lived as Marco Scandella would reply just 2:13 later, tying the game at one. The Jets regained their lead with a goal from Jacob Trouba –his third of the season—giving Winnipeg a 2-1 lead after one.
The Jets and Sabres would exchange goals in the middle frame with Blake Wheeler snapping a shot from the right circle, netting his 14th of the season. Johan Larsson would add one late in the period for Buffalo, getting the Sabres within one going into the third.
Just 25 seconds into period Bryan Little knocked home the eventual game-winner off a rebound from a shot by Jacob Trouba to give Winnipeg a 4-2 lead. Scott Wilson would score his first as a Sabre midway through the period, but the Jets survived a late flurry from the Sabres to hang on for the 4-3 win.
Winnipeg’s special teams were the difference tonight. The penalty kill went a perfect 5-for-5 and have not allowed a power play goal against in their last five games, going 14-for-14. The Jets red-hot power play on home ice continued, going 2-for-4 (50%) with the man advantage. Winnipeg’s home power play has gone 23-for-70 (32.8%) this season, which is tops in the NHL. The Jets have scored at least one power play goal in each of their last four games, going 6-for-16 during that span.
Blake Wheeler extended his point streak to five games (5G, 3A), and goal scoring streak to four games (5G). Patrik Laine also extended his point streak to four games with an assist tonight, and now has six assists during the streak.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 27-of-29 shots to pick up his 22nd win of the season and now improves to 22-4-6 on the season. Hellebuyck has only lost once in regulation at home this season, going 15-1-1 at Bell MTS Place.
The two teams will meet again in four days, when the Jets travel to Buffalo to begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday night.
The Jets will now get set to host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday for a rare matinee game before flying out on a three-game road trip. Puck drop on Sunday is set for 2 pm.
Bill Burfoot, Manitoba Post
Photo by James Carey Lauder