When the Winnipeg Jets made Nikolaj Ehlers their first pick in the 2014 entry draft, the organization believed they had an all-world talent that could become a break-out star in the NHL. The Dashing Dane showed quite a bit of offensive flair on Tuesday night, netting a hat-trick as the Jets cruised past the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 at the MTS Centre.
The win snapped the Jets three-game losing streak, while providing a much-needed reprieve of the drama surrounding the future of the likes of Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd, both are set to become UFAs on July 1.
Ehlers provided the scoring in the first period, tallying both goals as the Jets controlled the opening frame. His second was an absolute beauty as he batted in a Blake Wheeler feed like Jose Bautista walloping a fastball over the fence. It is a candidate for goal of the season by a Jet.
The second period may go down as the wildest and most entertaining period of the season. Dustin Byfuglien got things going as his centre-ice slap shot fooled Coyotes Louis Domingue, who thought Big Buff was just going to fire it off the boards on a simple dump-in. Buff instead shot it on goal and the puck snuck past the beleaguered Coyotes keeper.
Ehlers completed the hat-trick with over five minutes remaining after some relentless pressure by the Jets.
The Coyotes answered just over a minute later as Brad Richardson ended Connor Hellebuyck’s shutout bid after some sloppy Jets defending.
The game was essentially over when the Coyotes went on a two-man advantage but it was the Jets who scored as Byfuglien scored on a breakaway. It was the Jets second breakaway opportunity during this two-man disadvantage as Bryan Little also had a chance alone, but he was thwarted on his chance.
The Jets played it safe in the third, opting for a defence-first approach. Anthony Duclair did score late for the Coyotes to make the score a little more respectable.
Electrifying Ehlers: He’s had his struggles this season, but Ehlers has all the skill every team craves. Paired with Wheeler and Mark Scheifele, Ehlers dazzled the fans and mesmerized the Coyotes with his deceptive hard shot and blistering speed. Note to Paul Maurice: Perhaps you should have Ehlers play with Scheifele and Wheeler instead of Chris Thorburn. It’s a polite suggestion.
Big Bad Buff: There has been plenty of talk concerning the future of the massive defenceman. Will he stay? Will he go? Can the Jets sign him? Well, Buff made his case to get paid and not just because he scored twice. Buff was a physical force, making his presence felt all night. On Ehlers’ first goal, it was Buff who was in the grill of Domingue, who had no idea where the puck was until it was too late. He knocked Coyotes down, he made plays, he was mad. Pay the man, Chevy!
Special Teams Come Through: The Jets special teams have usually been the Jets downfall this season but tonight, they benefitted from strong special teams. Ehlers first goal was on the man advantage while we mentioned Buff’s shortie while two-men down. The Jets need more nights like this from their special teams.
Your Hot Taeks:
Watching Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler for years to come could be alot of fun! #NHLJets
— Matt Neal (@mattrneal86) January 27, 2016
Sign Buff to 8 years, $125 million and a lifetime membership to The Fishin’ Hole. Done.
— Ezra Ginsburg (@ICEzzyG) January 27, 2016
— Kristen Suderman (@KLSuderhand) January 27, 2016
Prior to Nikolaj Ehlers, the last teenager to record a Hat Trick in a Winnipeg uniform was Dale Hawerchuk on Feb 25, 1983 vs Hartford
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 27, 2016
Purely from fan entertainment standpoint, Ehlers is definitely in #NHLJets NHL tradition of Hawerchuk, Teemu, and Housley. Makes arena buzz.
— Greg Polinchuk (@GregP26) January 27, 2016
Charts And Stuff:
All charts courtesy war-on-ice.com
GIF Of The Night:
Of course I’m going to use Wile E Coyote. Too easy!