By Carter Brooks
Photos by James Carey Lauder
Led by top-line centreman Mark Scheifele, the Winnipeg Jets have propelled themselves into first place in the NHL's Western Conference.
On Tuesday evening, the Jets hosted the New York Rangers from Bell MTS Place in a statement game, smack dab in the middle of a seven-game-in-12-nights stand. Winnipeg received offence from Mark Scheifele who recorded his 29th and 30th goals of the season, as well as Andrew Copp and Joe Morrow, who each also found the twine.
After jumping ahead 2-0 in the first period on goals by Scheifele, the Jets appeared to sit back, as the red-hot Mika Zibanejad scored two goals in a span of 20 minutes, while teammate Pavel Buchnevich also collected a goal for the Rangers. Finding themselves trailing 3-2 just seconds into the third period, the members of the Winnipeg Jets came together to provide offence from a variety of sources.
Following a span of strong puck control in the visitors' end, Winnipeg capitalized on a tired group of Ranger players, as Joe Morrow scored his first goal of the season on a long bomb from the right point. The goal was Morrow's first strike since last season's playoffs. Then, on a strong rush up ice, the Jets' fourth line came alive once again, as Mason Appleton's pass (directed for a streaking Brendan Lemieux) found Andrew Copp, who buried his sixth point in his last seven games.
Copp's goal came just two minutes after Morrow's strike, instantly turning the tables on the Rangers, ultimately burying them in. Connor Hellebuyck - who was beaten on two very lucky deflection goals earlier - shut down New York in the final 13 minutes of the game, picking up win number 26 of the season. He stopped 34 pucks in victory Tuesday.
With 36 wins and 75 points through 57 games played, the Jets are now sitting in first place in the Western Conference, above Central Division rival Nashville Predators by three wins and four points, with two games in hand. Winnipeg will now host Colorado on Thursday and Ottawa on Saturday, as the Jets continue a mini homestand. Thursday's 7:00 PM central matchup will be available on TSN3, while Saturday's 6:00 PM showdown will be seen live on Sportsnet.