Wheeler’s shootout goal helps Jets beat Sabres to extend win streak

Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler, left, works against Buffalo Sabres goalie Craig Anderson during the shootout in an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Wheeler scored. (Adrian Kraus/AP)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Blake Wheeler had a goal in regulation and scored the shootout winner, Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Wednesday night for their third consecutive victory.

Mason Appleton had the tying goal in regulation and the Jets got shootout goals from Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele to win their fifth in six games as they push for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Zemgus Girgensons scored twice and Kyle Okposo had two assists for the Sabres, who have a point in seven straight games, their longest streak over the past three seasons.

Winnipeg opened a back-to-back road trip without leading scorer Kyle Connor and defenseman Nate Schmidt, who were both placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols earlier Wednesday.

Hellebuyck stopped six shots in overtime while the Jets killed a two-minute slashing penalty on Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Craig Anderson made 25 saves for the Sabres.

The Jets tied it twice in the second period on goals by Wheeler and Appleton.

Wheeler tapped in his 11th at 4:13 of the second after Dubois faked Anderson off his skates and slid a backhand to the front of the net.

Nikolaj Ehlers’ cross-ice pass on the rush set up Appleton in the right circle with 21 seconds left in the period. It was the seventh goal of the season for Appleton, and his first in four games since being reacquired in a trade with the Seattle Kraken, who selected him off the Jets’ roster in the July expansion draft.

Girgensons gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead 8:24 into the second, knocking in the rebound from Henri Jokiharju’s shot for his 10th goal.

The Sabres had a 13-5 advantage in shots on goal in the first and went ahead on Girgensons’ goal with 5:21 remaining in the period. After getting his shot blocked by Scheifele, Girgensons pounced on the loose puck in the high slot and snapped it past Hellebuyck.

The Jets didn’t record a shot almost the midway point of the first period but nearly scored soon after when Appleton deflected one off the post.

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Jets: Connor and Schmidt will miss at least two more games and remain in the U.S. through the weekend after testing positive Wednesday in Buffalo. The NHL suspended testing for asymptomatic players in late January, but the Jets were required to screen before flying into Canada following the game. Connor ranks fifth in the NHL with 41 goals, and Schmidt’s 31 points are the most among Winnipeg defensemen.

Sabres: Rookie D Mattias Samuelsson was scratched with an undisclosed injury and is day-to-day. … D John Hayden resumed skating with the team Wednesday before missing his fifth game since entering the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.


Jets: At Toronto on Thursday.

Sabres: Host Nashville on Friday after banner-raising ceremony for broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, who is retiring at the end of his 51st season.

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