By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Mark Scheifele credited a mini-vacation for helping spark his five-game goal streak.
Scheifele recorded the fifth hat trick of his career and added an assist to propel the Winnipeg Jets to a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.
His trio of goals gave him seven goals and four assists in five games since the NHL all-star break. Before this run, he hadn’t scored a goal in six straight games.
“I just went down south and got some sun, played some golf and spent some time with some buddies,” Scheifele said. “It was a nice refresher.”
Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected four assists.
“You saw the pass on the first goal, pretty phenomenal the vision there,” Scheifele said of Wheeler’s impact. “He’s been great after the break as well.
“I owe all of it to him, and (Paul Stastny) as well. He’s always in the right spot. He’s such a smart player, he’s so easy to play with.”
Cole Perfetti had a goal and assist with Kyle Connor and Stastny also scoring for the Jets (20-19-8), who had 12,527 fans at Canada Life Centre after capacity limits were removed on Tuesday. It was roughly 3,000 short of a full house.
Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves for Winnipeg, which was playing the second game of a four-game homestand (1-1-0). The team is 4-2-1 in their last seven games.
Joel Eriksson Ek, Mats Zuccarello and Dmitry Kulikov scored for the Wild (30-12-3), who are 11-2-1 in their last 14 games. Their two losses have been to Winnipeg. Zuccarello added an assist and Kirill Kaprizov had a pair of helpers.
The Jets shut out the Wild 2-0 in Winnipeg on Feb. 8. Winnipeg won their season series 2-1-1.
“Regardless of how Winnipeg plays, we still have to play the way we play,” Wild head coach Dave Evason said after the game.
“We can say that first game we were off with the (all-star) break and we weren’t sharp, but we weren’t sharp tonight either.”
Cam Talbot stopped 25 shots for Minnesota, but teammate Alex Goligoski said the netminder didn’t get the help he deserved.
“I think we’re seeing it a little bit more now, there’s little lapses in our game where we’re just not as desperate as we should be and it cost us tonight,” Goligoski said.
“We left Cam out to dry.”
The Wild led 1-0 after the first period with Winnipeg taking a 2-1 lead following the second.
The Jets were outshooting the visitors 7-2 early in the first, but the Wild picked up the pace and got a fortunate bounce for their first goal.
Jared Spurgeon sent the puck to the front of the net and it went off Eriksson Ek’s skate and into the net at 10:29 for his 15th goal of the season.
Shots on goal flipped to 15-10 in Minnesota’s favour at the end of the period.
Wheeler set up Scheifele’s tying goal by first getting the puck behind the net before curling out to the side and sending the puck across to Scheifele for his 15th goal of the season at 11:20.
Scheifele scored his second goal of the game with a one-timer on the power play with 12 seconds left in the period.
“I liked the fact that if you look at the first goal that we gave up, that could have derailed us,” Jets interim head coach Dave Lowry said.
“Our group showed a lot of resiliency. We just kept with what we had to do. We had to check tonight.”
Three goals were scored in the first five minutes of the third period.
Scheifele made it 3-1 at 1:07 and Perfetti widened the gap at 2:23.
Zuccarello scored his 15th goal of the season to close the gap 4-2 at 4:20.
Connor tallied his team-leading 27th goal just under six minutes later.
Kulikov put in a loose puck at 16:46 and Stastny fired in an empty-netter with just over two minutes remaining.
Winnipeg hosts the Seattle Kraken on Thursday while Minnesota is home to the Florida Panthers on Friday.