By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets entered the opener of their five-game homestand with some momentum, and continued to build on it Thursday night.
Kyle Connor scored a hat trick and added one assist in leading the Jets to a 6-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Cole Perfetti, Mason Appleton and Brenden Dillon added the others for Winnipeg (7-4-2), which extended its winning streak to three games.
“Great way to start a homestand, for sure,” said Connor, who now has five goals in his last two games. “We built off the end of that (last) road trip. We came home, got off to a great start and got contributions from everybody.
“We played our systems really well — 5-on-5, we played really well.”
Mark Scheifele picked up four assists to tie a Jets franchise record and Laurent Brossoit made 20 saves before 12,199 fans at Canada Life Centre.
Defenceman Dylan Samberg blocked nine shots, with several coming on a late power play for the Predators, who pulled Juuse Saros.
“Samberg does it every night. He doesn’t get enough love for that,” Connor said. “It’s a skill, too … to get in that lane and anticipate that shot. He’s pretty good at that.”
Filip Forsberg, with a pair of goals, and Philip Tomasino replied for Nashville (5-8-0), which dropped its second straight game and fourth in its last five.
Saros stopped 31-of-36 shots.
“These are tough places to play,” said Nashville head coach Andrew Brunette. “They are playing really well right now. We kind of fed into their game, but credit to them.
“Their top guys are buying in, they’re playing fast, they’re playing hard, and I think when you give them time and space like we did a little bit tonight, or you make mistakes, they make you pay. They’ve got that high skill. So, we’ll regroup, we’ll be better and we’ll move forward.”
Appleton opened the scoring just 4:04 into the first period, with his shot deflecting off Predators defenceman Tyson Barrie and in.
Forsberg knotted the score at 1-1 with a beautiful play at the 6:43 mark. He took the puck inside the blue line, deked around Jets defenceman Nate Schmidt and beat Brossoit alone in front.
Connor scored two goals under three minutes apart to give Winnipeg a 3-1 edge by the 3:48 mark of the second period.
“I thought we played really well in the first period,” Forsberg said. “Then, all of a sudden, they get two early goals early in the second and a lot of penalties. That was definitely the theme of the night. It’s one of those games that could have gone either way, but it just goes the other way.”
Perfetti increased the lead when he scored on the power play at 10:33, converting on a rebound from the side of the net.
Forsberg responded for the Predators at 12:05 of the middle frame. He scored his second of the game by firing a shot past Brossoit from the faceoff circle.
Dillon salted the game away, scoring on a point shot at 12:51 of the third period. The officials initially waved it off due to goalie interference, then overturned the call.
With Saros pulled, Tomasino scored with 4:44 left in the third to make it a 5-3 game.
But Connor completed his hat trick and iced the contest with an empty-net goal just 28 seconds later.
Scheifele had one power-play point in the game to move past Dustin Byfuglien (165) into fourth on the club’s all-time list. His power-play assist was the 100th of his career. … Perfetti extended his point streak to five games.
Winnipeg will host the Dallas Stars on Saturday afternoon.
The Predators return to Nashville to host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.