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Hellebuyck Helps Winnipeg Jets Knock Off Islanders 4-2

January 16, 2024 10:03 PM | The Canadian Press


By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — Mason Appleton was glad to help get the Winnipeg Jets back on track.

Appleton snapped a 25-game scoring drought and Kyle Connor scored an empty-net goal after a 16-game absence in Winnipeg’s 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

“When you go on such a long win streak and then you drop one game, you want to get right back to your winning ways,” Appleton said.

“That’s obviously a really good hockey team, a really disciplined team, they won’t give you much. But we found a way to win tonight and we’re back on the right track.”

Gabriel Vilardi and Neal Pionk also scored for the Jets (29-10-4), who had an eight-game win streak and 14-game point run halted last Saturday by a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia.

Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves for Winnipeg in front of 12,600 fans at Canada Life Centre.

Anders Lee scored twice for the Islanders, who were coming off a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

“We had chances throughout the game, I thought,” Lee said. “Guys were working, guys responded. Obviously it wasn’t enough to get the job done tonight, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Ilya Sorokin stopped 40 shots for New York, which is 1-5-0 in its last six matches and 2-5-1 during the month of January.

Winnipeg is still riding a franchise record for consecutive games of allowing three or fewer goals, which is now up to 33. The NHL record in the modern era (since 1967) is 35 by the Minnesota Wild in 2014-15.

The Jets have also only allowed two or fewer goals in a franchise-record 13 straight games.

Winnipeg, which wrapped up a four-game homestand with a 3-1-0 record, received good news the morning of the game when Connor returned to action following a knee-on-knee hit by Ducks forward Ryan Strome in Anaheim on Dec. 10. The winger returned a week earlier than the initial six- to eight-week estimate. He had 19:03 of ice time.

“Give (Connor) credit, because most guys take two or three games to get their timing and their reads and everything,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said.

“He just stepped in there tonight like he hadn’t missed 16 games. That’s very, very impressive.”

The score was tied 1-1 after the first period and Winnipeg led 3-1 heading into the third.

Josh Morrissey’s point shot started Winnipeg’s first scoring sequence. Adam Lowry tipped the puck and then Vilardi deflected it past Sorokin at 9:41.

Lee tied it two seconds after an Islanders’ power play expired when he tipped in a Mike Reilly shot at 15:53.

Pionk’s power-play goal at 15:19 could be blamed on Sorokin’s equipment, not the goalie’s effort.

Jets forward Cole Perfetti fired a shot at the net, but the puck hit Sorokin’s right skate blade and blew the blade off.

Pionk then took a pass from Nate Schmidt and shot it into the open side of the net because Sorokin couldn’t push over.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goalie without a skate blade get scored on, so some unlucky bounces, but I thought it was a better response,” Islanders defenceman Scott Mayfield said.

Islanders coach Lane Lambert was asked if there should be some type of rule to stop play if a goalie loses a blade.

“If he’s unable to play, I guess there would be certainly an argument for it,” Lambert said. “Loses his mask or something there is, so it’s just unfortunate.”

Appleton scored his seventh goal of the season at 17:58 with a shot that went by the post and bounced in off Sorokin’s pad.

Lee made it 3-2 just 35 seconds into the third when his shot banked in off Hellebuyck.

Connor scored his 18th goal of the season into an empty net with 1:22 remaining.

NOTES

Jets centre Mark Scheifele missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. … The Islanders are 0-3-3 in the back half of back-to-back games this season. … New York went into the game winning its past seven matches against Winnipeg.

UP NEXT

Islanders: Finish a four-game road trip Friday in Chicago against the Blackhawks.

Jets: Head out for a three-game road trip starting Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.

CP - The Canadian Press