WINNIPEG — Connor Hellebuyck was relieved to finally shut the door on an opponent this season.
The Winnipeg Jets goaltender got his first shutout of the season with a 21-save performance in a 5-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday and shared the credit with his high-flying teammates.
"It feels like I finally got the monkey off my back," said Hellebuyck, who has a 15-2-3 record this season.
"This is more of a team shutout. When the guys are playing as good as they are in front of me, it makes my life a lot easier. When one guy is feeling it, you can see it go through the locker-room. That’s what we have in here now."
Captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and three assists to boost Winnipeg’s NHL Western Conference-leading record to 17-6-4. Their 38 points also tied them for first overall in the league with idle Tampa Bay, which has a game in hand.
Wheeler’s linemates, centre Mark Scheifele and left-winger Mathieu Perreault, also had a goal each. The trio made up a new top line after Perreault moved from the fourth line and replaced Kyle Connor, who was scratched with a day-to-day undisclosed injury.
"What a luxury that is to have that kind of depth," Wheeler said.
Perreault has played with the pair before and was happy to fill in, especially with the ensuing results.
"Maybe one of the most dominating performances I’ve been part of in this league, to be honest," said Perreault.
"From the first minute, we took over the game. I think at one point the shots (were) 40-something to 15. We were in their end the whole game … They had a couple chances and (Hellebuyck) shut the door."
Patrik Laine and Tyler Myers also supplied goals for the Jets, who boosted their winning streak at Bell MTS Place to six games (10-2-1). They’re also unbeaten in regulation in their last 10 games at home (9-0-1).
Perreault and Dustin Byfuglien each had a pair of assists. Scheifele added one helper, extending his point streak to four games with nine points off three goals and six assists.
Scheifele’s 34 points is tied for fifth in NHL scoring, one point back of Wheeler’s fourth-place point total of 35. The captain’s 28 assists lead the league.
Mike Condon started in net for the Senators (9-10-6), but let in five goals on 22 shots and was replaced by Craig Anderson early in the second period. Anderson made 27 saves the rest of the way. Winnipeg’s 49 shots were its highest of the season.
"It’s about as embarrassing as I’ve ever felt playing in the NHL so definitely one we’ve got to wash away," said Senators forward Mark Stone, a Winnipeg native. "Lack of confidence, lack of effort. Anything you want to say, it wasn’t there tonight."
It was the third time this season Ottawa has been shut out. A fan in the crowd even threw a Senators jersey on the ice at the end of the game, but the number wasn’t visible.
"Any time you see your (team) jersey thrown on the ice, it’s never a good feeling," Stone said.
Ottawa went back to its losing ways after halting a seven-game winless skid with a 6-5 victory on Friday over the New York Islanders. Defenceman Erik Karlsson’s pointless streak stretched to nine games.
The Jets led 2-0 after the first period and got a goal on each of their first three shots to open the second.
Three of those five goals were with the man advantage, the second straight game Winnipeg has netted a trio of power-play markers. The Jets were 3-for-5 on the power play and the Senators were scoreless on three attempts.
"That’s a really good hockey team and they made us look like a mite team out there," Ottawa forward Nate Thompson said.
Winnipeg heads out for a three-game road trip starting in Detroit Tuesday. The Senators continue a seven-game trip with their third outingWednesday against Anaheim.