By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Smooth-skating Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey was the team’s latest hero, leading Winnipeg to a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Kraken on Thursday night.
Morrissey snapped a 3-3 tie with 6:10 left in the game to give Winnipeg a 4-3 lead. Forward Kyle Connor, who assisted, added an empty-net goal at the buzzer.
It was Winnipeg’s second win in as many nights.
“It’s huge,” Morrissey said. “Obviously, we know where we’re at in the standings, and we need points and wins right now. I’ve liked where our game has been at since we’ve come back from the break, for the most part, and it was an emotional win for us last night and (it was good) to rebound against a team that is coming in fresh and waiting for us here tonight.
“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest game through and through for us, but it’s a huge win. We’re going to need to stack wins together if we’re going to go on a run here.”
Morrissey converted a perfect pass from Connor and beat Seattle goalie Philipp Grubauer cleanly for the game-winner.
“He’s (Morrissey) back to being the player that we expected him to be,” said Jets coach Dave Lowry, who pointed out that Morrissey lost his father last season. “It was tough. But he is back and enjoying the game. He is having fun and playing the way that everybody expected him to play.”
Dominic Toninato, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Blake Wheeler also scored for Winnipeg, which improved to 22-18-8. Goalie Eric Comrie stopped 20-of-23 shots for the win before 13,071 fans at Canada Life Centre. Defenceman Dylan DeMelo had two assists.
Vince Dunn, Marcus Johansson and Jordan Eberle scored for Seattle, which fell to 16-30-4. Grubauer made 24 saves on 28 shots.
The Kraken blew a 2-0 first-period lead as Toninato scored a shorthanded goal with 13 seconds left in the first. Then, Dubois knotted the score at 2-2 early in the second.
“The short-handed goal at the end of the first period, the early goal at the beginning of the second period obviously gave them a lot of life,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol. “That led to a good second period for them.”
Seattle tied the score 3-3 7:02 into the final frame. Eberle tipped in a pass from Johansson from the crease.
“We created enough,” Eberle said. “I think the biggest thing is we gave up too much. We traded chances with a team that has a lot of fire power. I thought, at the start of the game, we started really well. We were on top of them and obviously, we had a couple big goals, and the short-handed one in the first, that really deflated us. That can’t happen. That’s on me, that’s on other guys.
“Then, they get one to tie it up and then, take the lead. We fought back and had opportunities to create, but at the end of the day we hung (Grubauer) too much out to dry. They had some good chances and that’s all stuff that we created and gave them.”
Jets captain Wheeler, who had two points, gave Winnipeg a 3-2 lead at 11:54 of the second period when he converted a pass from Paul Stastny from alone in front.
“It’s so hard to play back-to-back games,” Wheeler said. “We do it all the time. Teams play Minnesota the night before and they come up here and we spank them, typically. So, it’s a tough thing to do to play against a rested team when you’re not rested, and, obviously, they (Kraken) got a lot of speed and they’re fighting, too, to climb back into things. So, they jumped on us early tonight and it’s a testament to our group sticking with it.”
It was the third of a four-game homestand for Winnipeg, who host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon.
The Kraken will face the Flames in Calgary on Saturday, then wrap up a three-game road trip in Vancouver on Sunday night.
NOTES: The Jets lost forward Cole Perfetti to an undisclosed injury during the game. They also played without veteran forward Andrew Copp, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Wednesday … Former Jets forward Mason Appleton played his first game in Winnipeg since the Jets left him unprotected in the NHL expansion draft.