JNGD.S8.G65 Instant Recap: Career Night For Wheeler

The Winnipeg Jets downed the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 5-2 behind a masterful performance by Blake Wheeler. The Jets were led by their captain who did his best Laine impression by scoring four goals in the game. It was a career night for Wheeler who has had two previous hat-tricks, but never a four goal game. Hellebuyck stood tall in the defensive end and the Jets are off to a great start on their eastern road trip.

First Period

It was an excellent start for the Jets as they seemed to take the Blue Jackets by surprise. Scheifele nearly scored on the opening shift as he made a nice move off a three on two rush. The Jets followed that up with a few more good shifts before the third line opened the scoring. It began with some great offensive zone time as the Jets worked the puck around before Sami Niku found the back of the net. It was a point shot that found it’s way through traffic and right into the top corner.

Shortly after this goal, the Blue Jackets were called for too many men and the Jets were off to their first powerplay of the game. There was nothing doing on the man-advantage and it went from bad to worse as Myers took a penalty while on the powerplay because of his own terrible giveaway.

It was the Blue Jackets turn to go on the powerplay and they made the Jets pay as a Panarin shot rebounded straight to Foligno who snapped it past Hellebuyck.

With the game tied at one, the Jets got the next few opportunities with back to back powerplays. They weren’t able to score on either and it seemed as though they were trying to get a little too fancy with all the passing. While working the puck around is important to success on the powerplay, eventually someone has to shoot the puck. They had an issue actually getting the shots off despite good pressure.

With the score tied at one, the horn sounded and the first period was over. It was a decent period for the Jets, but their is definitely room to improve in the second.

Second Period

The strong opening shifts continued in the second period as the Jets regained their lead just 35 seconds into the frame. It was a great shift from the whole group as they kept the puck alive in the offensive zone. Kulikov took the shot and Wheeler tipped it between Bobrovsky’s legs to regain the one goal lead.

The period continued with a few injury scares as Wheeler appeared to be hobbling on his next shift. He stayed in the game but seemed to be uncomfortable for a few minutes. Even more scary was a hit a little later from Foligno on Scheifele. Scheifele tried to jump out of the way but got one leg caught along the boards. He stayed down for a few moments as Kulikov dropped the gloves and had a spirited tilt with Foligno. Luckily, Scheifele appeared fine as well as he continued to play on the next shift.

The period was going fine for the Jets, until they got stuck in their own zone. It was an extremely long shift by the Jets followed by an icing call that kept them on the ice. They stayed out for another minute before Columbus was able to capitalize on the exhausted Jets line. It was Jones with the tying goal and it seemed to swing momentum in the Blue Jackets’ favour.

The Blue Jackets followed the goal with another strong shift and near the end of the period Hellebuyck knocked the net off while trying to push across his crease. The refs called him for delay of game and the Jets will begin the third period on the penalty kill.

Third Period

For the first time in the game, the Jets weren’t able to score in the opening minutes of the period. They successfully killed off the Hellebuyck penalty and started to gain momentum as the period progressed. It took a while, but the top line struck once again for the Jets as Wheeler tipped home his second of the game. It was Beaulieu with the point shot as Wheeler tipped it off the far post to give the Jets the lead for the third time in the game.

It couldn’t be all sunshine and roses for the Wheeler as he took a penalty in the second half of the period. His stick got caught between the legs of a Blue Jacket and the Jets had to kill off another penalty. The Blue Jackets generated a few chances but Hellebuyck stood tall and made a few big saves with his glove.

Ok, maybe it was all sunshine and roses as Wheeler continued to be the star of the show. He scored his third goal of the game on a partial breakaway after receiving a beautiful pass from Laine in the offensive end.

Now up by two, the Blue Jackets pulled Bobrovsky in the dying minutes. With the empty net staring him down, Wheeler made it four on the night which is a new career best for him.

Talking Points

The Jets are sorely missing Byfuglien on the powerplay. His passing and decision making is great, but his main strength is his shot. Nobody on the Jets can shoot the puck like Byfuglien from the top of the zone. Teams can cheat on the Scheifele and Laine options because they know that Trouba isn’t as dangerous. Everything changes when it’s Byfuglien blasting it instead.

Turnovers continue to plague the Jets as they are continually struggling to get the puck out of their own zone and into the offensive end. It led to a few odd-man rushes by the Blue Jackets and makes the game so much tougher for Hellebuyck.

It was a career night for Wheeler who was engaged in the game from the very beginning. He seems happier since last Monday… wait, wasn’t that when Hendricks returned…? Is that a coincidence??? Regardless, it was a great game from the captain as he scored his third career hat-trick and first ever four goal game.