By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Patrik Laine is in some great company at the top of the NHL’s scoring race after his four-point outing on Thursday.
Laine scored twice and added a pair of assists as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-2.
The Finnish sharpshooter has 10 points through five games, tying him with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, who had a goal and one assist in his team’s 4-3 shootout win over New Jersey earlier Thursday. Laine and McDavid both have three goals and seven assists, but the Oilers have only played four games.
“I wouldn’t be there without my teammates and my linemates,” said Laine. “I think they’ve done a really good job of giving me some great looks and opportunities.
“Like I’ve said before, I think my goal for the season was to try to work as hard as I can, every night, every day. I think I’ve been able to do that for the last five games. It’s still not quite there, I’m still working as hard as I can, but I don’t think I’m playing the way I can. That only shows what I’m capable of, and hopefully going to have a good rest of the season.”
Laine set up Kyle Connor’s third-period goal that broke a 2-2 tie. Jack Roslovic scored 28 seconds after Laine and then Laine finished it off with an empty-net goal.
Laine joined the top line with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele during the team’s third game of the season.
Wheeler recorded a goal and one assist and Scheifele contributed a pair of assists against Minnesota.
Connor Hellebuyck made 38 saves for the Jets (3-2-0) in the team’s home opener after it started the season with a four-game road trip.
Wheeler said he has a plan for Laine, who missed training camp along with teammate Kyle Connor as both sought out new contracts as restricted free agents.
“My goal with him is by the time I’m out of here, he’s one of the best forwards in the league, in that conversation,” Wheeler said of the 21-year-old Laine.
“He’s a guy that has a ton of success at a young age. He’s been a huge part of our team success and when it doesn’t go well and you’re a young player, you’ve got to fight through it. Sometimes your emotions get the better of you and it’s hard to realize what you need to do.”
Wheeler said he talked to Laine in the summer and he thinks the young star’s determination has been “outstanding” so far.
Ryan Hartman and Brad Hunt scored for the Wild (0-3-0), who haven’t opened a season with three straight losses since the franchise started playing in 2000-01.
“We’re not giving up after three games,” Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “St. Louis was in third place until January third last year so, I mean, we’ll get it together.
“We do a lot of good things right for a lot of the game, we just haven’t been able to complete it.”
Devan Dubnyk stopped 27-of-31 shots he faced, ending a streak of six straight regular-season wins over the Jets, including five last season.
“It’s certainly not where we want to be, but I think we’re pretty close as a group in here and we’re going to find a way out of this,” Dubnyk said of the team’s dubious start.
“There’s a lot of good things to take from our games, but if we want to win, we’re definitely going to have to tighten up a little bit on certain things. But I think those are small fixes.”
The Wild had tied it 2-2 with Hunt’s high shot through traffic in front of Hellebuyck at 3:09 of the third.
Hartman opened scoring with his first goal of the season at 13:08 of the first period after a Winnipeg turnover. The Jets have given up the first goal in all five of their games this season.
Wheeler evened the score at 1:37 of the second period with his third goal of the season. It marked the 700th point of his NHL career (865 games). The crowd at Bell MTS Place recognized the milestone with loud cheering and applause. He later added an assist.
The Jets travel to Chicago for a game Saturday. Minnesota returns home after a season-opening three road games and hosts Pittsburgh Saturday.