Entering the final week of the regular season, the Winnipeg Jets were determined to provide their fans with a quality performance and though the results didn’t come immediately, they did exactly that against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.
Despite their best efforts, the Jets could sneak any pucks past goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who stopped all 23 shots against through the first 40 minutes. Thankfully, however, their scoring came in bunches during the third period as the team registered four unanswered goals to conclude regulation.
At which point, Winnipeg was awarded a 4-1 outcome over Colorado, snapping the club’s four-game losing skid. It was a perfect way to begin the final homestand of the 2021-22 campaign.
In addition, this latest victory also meant goaltender Connor Hellebuyck had recorded the 200th victory of his NHL career – a feat no other netminder in Jets 2.0/Atlanta Thrashers franchise history has ever accomplished.
For an extended recap, here are three notable takeaways from the Jets’ 36th victory of the season:
Kyle Connor’s Historic Performance
Heading into the night, forward Kyle Connor was sitting on 44 goals in 2021-22, placing him tied with former Jet Patrik Laine for the most in a single season since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg. While the sharp-shooting lefty made everyone wait until the third period, it was certainly worth it.
With the Jets leading 3-1, forward Jansen Harkins forced a turnover in the offensive zone just as the play was heading in the other direction, setting the stage for what was next to come. Shortly after regaining possession, Harkins quickly fired a pass to his teammate, Connor, who made quick work to find the back of the net.
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) April 25, 2022
By scoring his 45th goal of the season, Connor made history Sunday night and now sits alone in first. With three games remaining, there’s a chance he could add to his lead even further through the rest of the way.
Digging deeper into his historic showing, the 25-year-old served as the club’s most productive offensive contributor one night ago. As is normally the case. In total, along with his goal, he also finished with the most shots on goal (five), the highest individual expected goals rate (1.05) and the second-most high-danger chances (three) during all situations, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
All in all, this was surely a night Connor will likely never forget.
Nikolaj Ehlers Breaks Out of His Offensive Drought
Prior to Sunday’s contest, forward Nikolaj Ehlers had been held pointless in two straight and hadn’t scored a goal over his previous three games, either. Though, he put an end to his offensive skid during the late stages of this matchup.
As the scoreboard read 3-1 in favour of Winnipeg with less than five minutes remaining, the game was all but wrapped up at this point. But after veteran Paul Stastny won an offensive-zone face-off, Ehlers helped solidify his team’s victory by ripping home his 27th goal of the season.
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) April 25, 2022
Between Connor’s and Ehlers’ markers, there were a pair of magnificent scores that occurred not even four minutes apart in the third period. Not to mention, the Danish superstar also played a vital role during Winnipeg’s second of four goals, which was scored by captain Blake Wheeler.
Creating a screen in front, Ehlers got tied up with Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar, ultimately allowing a shot to deflect off Makar’s skate, then Kuemper’s body, onto Wheeler’s stick and into the net. If you blinked for just a second, you probably missed the entire sequence.
Another Costly Mistake By Logan Stanley
Filling in for the injured Nate Schmidt, Logan Stanley stepped out of the press box and returned to Winnipeg’s third defensive pairing, where his aggressiveness got the better of him yet again.
Early in the third period, Colorado’s skaters were engaged in transition and even though linemate Brenden Dillon had the right wing covered upon entry, Stanley mistakenly decided to join him on that side, leaving the middle wide open. Taking full advantage of this mental mistake, forward @J.T. Compher exploded through that gap before beating Hellebuyck for his 17th goal of the season.
This most recent error was almost identical to the one Stanley made last time out against the New York Rangers. In that matchup, the 6’7″ blueliner jumped up while defending against the rush, abandoning the slot once again. That play also resulted in a goal against.
Granted, this is just his second NHL season. So he still has plenty of time to develop his craft. But unless the coaching staff puts him in a position to succeed and helps him grow from these mistakes, the former first-round selection likely won’t be able to learn from them.
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