By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 30 shots he faced as the Winnipeg Jets blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Defenceman Josh Morrissey and forward Pierre-Luc Dubois each had a power-play goal and an assist as Winnipeg (7-3-1) improved to 5-0-1 in its last six games.
Jets defenceman Nate Schmidt also scored on the power play while forward Adam Lowry had his second short-handed goal of the season before 13,210 fans at the Canada Life Centre.
“Our details have been right,” Hellebuyck said. “We’re getting everyone’s A game right now. We’ve got a lot of character in this room and it’s starting to show. We care about winning and we’re showing it.”
It was Hellebuyck’s second shutout of the season and 30th of his NHL career.
“Getting better every year,” he said. “This is probably the best I’ve been and hopefully I keep growing it.”
Arvid Soderblom started in net for Chicago (5-5-2), making 21 saves on 24 shots before being replaced by Dylan Wells to start the third period.
Wells turned aside 12 of 13 shots in his NHL debut.
“I don’t know (Soderblom’s) status,” said Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson. “I just know the trainer came after the second period and said he wasn’t feeling good, and Wells was here. He stood really strong for us in the third period. It’s definitely concerning with all of the injuries at this point. Hopefully, he’s not too bad.”
Chicago has already lost goalies Petre Mzrak and Alex Stalock to injuries.
“(Wells) looked confident standing in the crease there, so it was a good start for him,” Richardson said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good start or finish for us.”
Wells was thrilled, despite the loss.
“It feels really good,” he said. “It’s been a goal of mine since I was a little kid, to play in the NHL.”
Morrisey broke the scoreless tie at the game’s midway point. With Chicago forward Jujhar Kharia off for interference, Morrissey’s slap shot from the point beat a screened Soderblom. It was Morrissey’s first goal of the season with Mark Scheifele and Dubois earning assists.
Lowry gave the Jets a 2-0 lead with a short-handed goal at the 13:33 mark when he beat a Chicago defenceman to the puck outside the blue line, raced down the ice and blasted a shot over Soderblom’s right shoulder.
“Honestly, coming down that side, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Lowry said. “I think I just tried to get it off my stick as quick as I could.
“It’s a big momentum swing. I was happy to see that one go in.”
It was a killer for the Blackhawks.
“That (short-handed goal) really deflated us a lot,” Richardson said. “I thought we played a very good road first period and first half of the game. Unfortunately, they scored on the power play and a short-handed one right after that, and that really hurts.”
Special teams keyed the victory.
“Obviously, special teams were huge,” Morrissey said. “And (Hellebuyck) in net was fantastic. I think the things we’re trying to see out of our team are becoming more and more consistent. Hopefully, we can keep that going.”
Dubois added to that lead just over four minutes later, beating Soderblom with a wrist shot off of a smart pass from Kyle Connor.
Winnipeg made it 4-0 with its third power-play goal of the game early in the third period. Schmidt took a perfect pass from forward Cole Perfetti and smoked a shot past Wells.
Veteran defenceman Kyle Capobianco, an off-season free-agent acquisition, played his first game for the Jets. He replaced defenceman Dylan Samberg in the lineup … Forward Jansen Harkins, who was recently recalled from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, also replaced forward Dominic Toninato … Chicago forward Jonathan Toews had a seven-game points streak snapped. His seven goals lead the team and was ninth in the NHL heading into Saturday’s games.
Winnipeg will host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday in the final game of its three-game homestand. Chicago will play the Kings in Los Angeles in the second stop of a three-game road trip on Thursday.