By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Pierre-Luc Dubois heard the boos from Winnipeg Jets fans who used to cheer him, but his goal and a 5-1 win with his new Los Angeles Kings team on Tuesday made his return a fun night.
“It was an honour to play here,” Dubois said. “They were passionate tonight even when they were booing me so it was great to see.”
Dubois was traded to Los Angeles from Winnipeg in June for forwards Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo and Rasmus Kupari. He had joined the Jets in January 2021 in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Some fans welcomed Dubois back by booing the centre each time he touched the puck.
Travis Moore had two goals and an assist to help the Kings pick up their first victory of the NHL season. Phillip Danault recorded a goal and two assists and Arthur Kaliyev notched a goal and assist for the Kings (1-1-1).
Cam Talbot, a free-agent signing on July 1, made 26 saves.
Jets centre Mark Scheifele averted a shutout by scoring with 1:16 remaining in the third period in front of 11,226 fans at Canada Life Centre. It’s believed to be the lowest attendance since the Jets moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011, outside of game restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. A sellout at the arena is 15,324.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 24 shots for Winnipeg (1-2-0).
The trade storyline didn’t end on a happy note for Vilardi, who was tripped by Kings forward Blake Lizotte 5:55 into the first period along the boards. Vilardi grabbed his right knee and skated off the ice putting some weight on it. He didn’t return.
Nikolaj Ehlers and Vladislav Namestnikov had turns replacing Vilardi on the top line with Scheifele and Kyle Connor.
Jets coach Rick Bowness didn’t have an update on Vilardi.
“Did we miss Gabe? Absolutely,” he said. “He’s our top guy, he’s a huge part of the power play. But injuries happen, you move on.”
Kings head coach Todd McLellan was crossing his fingers for Vilardi.
“You never want to see anybody hurt, but one of your old teammates and a really good kid, you don’t want to see that at all,” he said. “A complete accident. But we’re hoping that he can come back and heal up.
“He’s going to be a big part of this team. He’s a hell of a player and fans here in Winnipeg are going to enjoy not only him, but the other two that came.”
There was no scoring in the first period, although it looked like Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey had a goal seven minutes into the period, but his blistering shot hit the crossbar and stayed out.
Winnipeg outshot the visitors 14-9 in the opening frame.
“We needed to get back to how we played in the first, and we weren’t really able to do that,” Ehlers said.
“It was a lot of east-west plays. … We were ripping that puck down for icing, all of us. That’s not how you’re going to get back into the game.”
Dubois scored his first goal of the season five seconds after a Winnipeg penalty expired, putting Anze Kopitar’s rebound past Hellebuyck at 11:01 of the second period.
Tempers erupted late in the period after Kings defenceman Andreas Englund hit Jets forward Cole Perfetti in the back and into the boards. Dylan Samberg jumped to Perfertti’s defence. Samberg and Englund were both dinged for fighting, but Samberg was also handed a penalty for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.
The bad blood continued when Perfetti went in the corner and was called for cross-checking Matt Roy. Jets centre Mark Scheifele and Kaliyev joined in and both got dinged for roughing.
Los Angeles came out the winner on the scoreboard when Moore made it 2-0 at 16:19.
The Kings outshot the Jets 12-4 in the second.
It was all Los Angeles for most of the third, with Kaliyev scoring at 2:51, Moore netting his second at 14:31 and Danault scoring on the power play two minutes later.
Winnipeg was 0-for-4 on the power play and the Kings 1-for-5.
Jets head coach Rick Bowness had some fun with the game’s subplot.
The starting line he sent on the ice was Iafallo, Kupari and Vilardi. They usually play on different lines.
Captain Kopitar played in his 646th career road game, tying Dustin Brown for the most road games played in franchise history. Kopitar is now one game away from tying Brown (1,296) for most games played all-time in franchise history.
Kopitar also became the second player in Kings’ history to record 750 assists, joining Marcel Dionne (757).
Jets: End a three-game homestand Thursday with a visit from the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights.
Kings: Travel to Minnesota for a Thursday game against the Wild.