Jets’ playoff push picks up steam with lopsided win over Devils

Nikolaj Ehlers netted a pair of goals, and Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 31 shots to help the Winnipeg Jets dominate over the New Jersey Devils 6-1.

WINNIPEG — Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice and Morgan Barron was successful on a penalty shot as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 on Sunday.

Devils forward Nico Hischier foiled Connor Hellebuyck’s shutout bid when he scored on the power play with 13.9 seconds left in the third period.

Hellebuyck stopped 31 of 32 shots in his 60th start of the season for Winnipeg.

Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and assist, while Kyle Connor and Nino Niederreiter also scored for the Jets (43-31-3). Blake Wheeler contributed a pair of assists.

Vitek Vanacek stopped 17 of 21 shots for New Jersey (48-21-8) before he was replaced by Mackenzie Blackwood to start the third period. Blackwood made four saves in relief.

Even though the Devils were playing the second game of a back-to-back set after beating the Blackhawks in Chicago Saturday night, it was a rare loss. New Jersey went into the game 9-2-0 in the second half of back-to-back games, and 5-0 when those were road games.

The victory helped Winnipeg’s quest for a playoff spot. They’re one point behind idle Seattle for the first Western Conference wild-card playoff berth, but the Kraken have two games in hand.

The Calgary Flames went into their Sunday night home game against Anaheim two points back of Winnipeg for the second wild-card playoff berth. The idle Nashville Predators were a point behind the Flames with two games in hand on Winnipeg and Calgary.

Winnipeg led 2-0 after the first period and 4-0 following the second.

Ehlers scored 4:59 into the first period after Wheeler won a battle for the puck against the boards behind the net and sent the puck to Ehlers alone in the slot.

Ten seconds after a Winnipeg power play expired, Neiderreiter scored his 24th goal of the season off a rebound with 3:45 remaining in the first.

Jets forward Adam Lowry helped the play develop by stealing the puck just outside New Jersey’s blue line and giving it to Wheeler.

Winnipeg went up 3-0 at 2:42 of the second after Barron got a penalty shot when Devils defenceman Damon Severson held him on a breakaway.

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Barron skated in on Vanecek and fired the puck low and inside the post.

Connor recorded his 30th goal of the season after Dubois got the puck to him at the front of the net and beat Vanecek at 10:34.

The Devils outshot Winnipeg 14-8 in the middle frame, but Hellebuyck made some key saves and his teammates helped him out by blocking shots. The Jets had 16 blocked shots after the second compared to New Jersey’s six.

Ehlers notched his 12th goal of the season when he beat Blackwood stick side with 5:50 remaining, but Hischier recorded his 31st with 13.9 seconds left.


Barron became the fourth Jets player to score on a penalty shot since the team relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. The others were Bryan Little, Ehlers and Dubois. … Wheeler’s pair of assists gave him his 200th multi-point game and 108th multi-assist game. Both are the most in franchise history. … The game was Winnipeg’s final regular-season meeting with an Eastern Conference team. The Jets finished 15-17-0 against Eastern clubs.


Jets: Host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

Devils: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday.

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