By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Nikolaj Ehlers finally resolved Winnipeg’s frustration with the game-winning goal late in the game and kept the team’s winning streak alive.
Ehlers scored with just 1:05 left in the game to give the Jets a 2-1 victory over the injury-riddled Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
Winnipeg scored two goals in the last four minutes to overcome a 1-0 deficit, finally solving Chicago netminder Petr Mrazek.
“It just felt like every shot, he was able to just pick it off,” said Ehlers, who extended his point-scoring streak to six games.
“He was fantastic tonight. So was (Laurent Brossoit), obviously. When you keep shooting and you keep shooting and it’s not going in, there’s some frustration that kicks in at some point. But the key point, and what you saw tonight, is that at some point it’s going to go in.”
Gabe Vilardi also scored for the Jets with Adam Lowry chipping in assists on both goals.
The Jets have earned points in 14 straight games, extending their franchise record. They are also on an eight-game winning streak, another franchise record.
The Jets have now held opponents to three goals or less in 31 consecutive contests, another franchise record, and 36 games overall. They have also held opponents to two goals or less in 18 of their last 19 games, and 11 straight, which is yet another club record.
The Jets knotted the score at 1-1 with 3:29 left in the third period after Lowry fought off a check and fed Vilardi alone in front of Mrazek.
“That’s huge, obviously,” Ehlers said. “We didn’t like the way that we played in the second period. Frustrations kicked in and we talked about it. The way that we played in the third, we didn’t let them breathe. It was bound to go in.”
Connor Murphy replied for Chicago.
“You gotta give that team a lot of credit,” said Josh Morrissey. “They battled us hard. They were tough on us all game. I think they finished every check they could when I was out there in the corners. It was hard to play against. They came in and they worked. Didn’t make it easy for us.”
Brossoit stopped 20 of 21 shots for Winnipeg (28-9-4) before a sellout crowd of 15,225 fans at Canada Life Centre.
“We skated hard, but I just thought we backed off a little bit on the last five minutes, and the other team was desperate and came at us, and got two good chances,” said Chicago coach Luke Richardson. “We’ve got to try to prevent that. It was definitely disappointing not even getting into overtime for a point on the road.
“It’s unfortunate. I just thought that they wanted it a little but more than us at the end of the game and we just couldn’t contain them and hold them.”
Mrazek made 26 saves on 28 shots in the loss.
“He was great,” Richardson said. “He deserves way better from us in front of us at the end of the game to try to get him the win, if not a shutout. He’s been great for us all year, so we’ll have to get him a little more goal support and definitely protect a little better at the end of the game.”
The Blackhawks were indeed frustrated.
“Leading up to the third I think we did play hard and stayed consistent, but it’s hard to win games, against good teams, too,” said Murphy. “Any team’s going to pour it on you at the end if you’re trying to defend the lead and you’ve got to know how to play, and we clearly didn’t show we know how to play with it.”
The Blackhawks opened the scoring early in the second period when Murphy’s screened shot from the point beat Brossoit.
Mark Scheifele suffered a lower-body injury during his first shift of the second period and was done for the night … Before the game, the Jets announced that Ville Heinola, who has recovered from an ankle injury, has been lent to the Manitoba Moose, their American Hockey League farm club, for a two-week conditioning stint … Connor Hellebuyck, who backed up Brossoit on Thursday night, sports an 11-0-2 in his last 13 games, the longest unbeaten streak by a goalie in franchise history … Not only was Chicago missing rookie sensation Connor Bedard, who underwent jaw surgery on Wednesday, they were missing Nick Foligno, who suffered a fractured finger in a fight.
Jets: Will host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Blackhawks: Return home to host the Dallas Stars on Saturday.