By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – A little chat between players on the Winnipeg Jets’ fourth line paid off in a big way Saturday.
The new line of centre Matt Hendricks with Mathieu Perreault and Joel Armia accounted for two goals as the Jets defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-2.
A trio of Winnipeg goals in a span of 95 seconds in the second period included one by Hendricks.
“We had a good talk (Friday) as a line after practice,” said Hendricks, who also assisted on Perreault’s goal. “We were feeling good coming into (the game) and we wanted to start contributing a little bit more.”
The line has only been together for two games. Perreault returned from missing 12 games with an injury and scored in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over Philadelphia.
Connor Hellebuyck made 34 saves in the Jets’ (12-4-3) fourth straight victory. The goalie has allowed two or less goals in 11 of his 14 starts (11-1-2).
“My goal as a goaltender, I grew up thinking that if you keep (the opposition) to two or under, you expect to win,” Hellebuyck said. “Because the guys in here are very talented.”
Devils goalie Cory Schneider was pulled after letting in five goals in the second period. He stopped 17-of-22 shots and was replaced by Keith Kinkaid, who made 12 saves.
“It’s never something you want to kind of snowball like that,” Schneider said. “For me, it’s about making a save or two to stop the momentum.
“To give up three or four goals on four or five shots in that short amount of time, it’s tough as a goalie. If you give up one, you bear down and make sure they don’t get that second one. Tonight, I just wasn’t able to stop the bleeding.”
Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine and Jacob Trouba also scored for Winnipeg, which is 7-2-1 at Bell MTS Place this season.
Mark Scheifele and Armia both had a pair of assists, while Connor, Perreault and Hendricks added single helpers.
Brian Gibbons and Will Butcher scored for the Devils (11-5-3), who are 6-2-2 on the road. It was Butcher’s first goal to go with 14 assists.
A scoreless first period was followed up by five goals in under 10 minutes of the second.
Connor rushed the net and sent a Blake Wheeler rebound past Schneider at 5:51, but Gibbons evened it up 1:01 later with his ninth goal of the season.
Laine tipped in a Nikolaj Ehlers’s shot at 8:06, extending his points streak to eight games with six goals and three assists. That tied Laine’s longest points streak from last season, his first in the NHL.
Trouba got his first goal of the season at 8:41 with a shot over Schneider’s glove, then Hendricks took a feed from Perreault behind the net to make it 4-1 at 9:41.
Hendricks then extended the same favour, setting up Perreault in front of the net for his goal that ended the period’s scoring at 18:18.
“Our start was great,” Devils forward Taylor Hall said. “It was just a few minutes there where we had some major breakdowns, where we gave up some grade-A chances where they buried. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You have to learn from that stuff and get better from it.”
Jets head coach Paul Maurice likes what he’s seen so far by putting Perreault with Hendricks and Armia.
“It makes that line dangerous, where you stop calling them (line) four,” Maurice said. “Each line has a little bit of an identity now, they do something a little bit different.”
Butcher ended the game’s scoring at 7:14 of the third.
Jets defenceman Tobias Enstrom didn’t play the third period because of a lower-body injury and there was no update.
Winnipeg heads out for four games starting Monday in Nashville. New Jersey finishes a four-game road trip Monday against Minnesota.