By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Kyle Connor’s scoring prowess is nothing new, but it still impresses his teammates.
Connor scored twice and added an assist to propel the Winnipeg Jets to a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday and put himself in a tie atop the NHL’s goal-scoring leaderboard.
Connor’s goals gave him 13 on the season, tying him for most goals this season with Auston Matthews, whose Toronto Maple Leafs were idle Tuesday.
“There are just certain players around the league who you play with or play against who have that goal-scoring knack,” said Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey, who had a career-high four assists that tied a franchise record for assists in a game.
“Obviously, it’s his skill, it’s his smarts, it’s his shot, it’s all of that. I’ve seen him score so many goals in games and more so in practice even, from impossible angles, from traffic.”
Connor’s three points extended his point streak to four games, including seven goals and four assists. His career high is 47 goals in 2021-22.
Nikolaj Ehlers also had a pair of goals. Cole Perfetti scored once and added an assist and Morgan Barron recorded one goal.
“When (Connor is) going like he is, that puck just keeps on finding him,” Ehlers said.
“His first goal, he shoots the puck, it comes right back out to him. He’s right there with that speed and is able to put it in. He’s a pretty important and good player for us.”
Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves for Winnipeg (8-5-2), which played the third of a five-game homestand in front of 11,717 fans at Canada Life Centre
Timo Meier, John Marino and Dawson Mercer scored for the Devils (7-6-1), including a pair of goals on the power play for the league’s top-ranked team with the man advantage.
Akira Schmid stopped 25 of 30 shots for New Jersey, which has lost three straight and four of its past five games.
There was no scoring in the first period, but the teams combined for five goals in the second period and Winnipeg led 3-2 after the barrage.
Winnipeg forward Rasmus Kupari left the game with eight minutes remaining in the first period after falling into the boards. Jets interim head coach Scott Arniel said after the game it was Kupari’s shoulder and he was being evaluated.
Shots on goal after the first favoured Winnipeg 9-7.
“We didn’t give up a lot in the first (period), obviously,” Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. “Second, a couple mistakes that you’d like to have back.
“And then you look at a couple late goals, we’re getting first touch and we don’t execute. Another goal, same type of thing. We fall down on the penalty kill and it ends up in the back of your net … when that happens it’s tough to swallow.”
Connor got the Jets on the board 8:07 into the second period when he fired his own rebound past Schmid.
Perfetti scored 31 seconds into a man advantage at 13:54, extending his goal-scoring streak to four goals in four games.
The Devils tied it 2-2 with a pair of goals 72 seconds apart.
New Jersey got lucky on the power play when Meier scored at 14:54 after the puck went in off Jets defenceman Dylan Samberg.
Marino’s first goal of the season soon followed at 16:06.
“At this point, just need a win. But yeah, it feels good,” Marino said of his goal.
Meier has a goal in three consecutive games, while Marino extended his point streak to five games with one goal and four assists.
Ehlers made it 3-2 after Perfetti looked like he was going to shoot, but he sent a pass to Ehlers beside the net and he put the puck in at 18:10.
The helper stretched Perfetti’s point streak to seven games, including four goals and five assists.
With New Jersey forward Curtis Lazar off for hooking, Connor scored his second of the game with a deep-bending shot at 9:54 of the third to make it 4-2.
Barron scored at 11:58 and Ehlers put the puck into an empty net with 1:30 left.
The Devils were again without injured top centres Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. … Ehlers played his 538th game with the Jets, passing Slava Kozlov for 10th in franchise games played. … Winnipeg defenceman Neal Pionk marked his 400th NHL career game.
Devils: Travel to play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
Jets: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.