WINNIPEG â€” Blake Wheeler admitted it was a slow start for the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
That’s accurate, considering it took more than six minutes for either the Jets or Philadelphia Flyers to get a shot on goal. But once the scoreless first period was done, Wheeler got things rolling with linemates Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault as the Jets earned their third consecutive victory with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia.
Wheeler and Scheifele each had a goal and a pair of assists and Perreault picked up a goal and one assist for the Jets.
“I think we know what our style of play is â€” keep things simple and grind in the offensive zone,” said Wheeler, who scored his 22nd goal of the season. “That’s what Scheif and I try to do and Matty Perreault works incredibly hard. He’s on every puck and creates a ton of turnovers for us.”
It was only the Jets’ second three-game win streak of the season.
The teams were tied 1-1 until Wheeler put a high shot on Steve Mason’s glove side into the net at 7:02 of the third period. After a Flyers’ turnover in their own end, Scheifele scored his 29th with another high shot at 13:51 to make it 3-1.
Flyers winger Matt Read was later credited for a goal with two seconds remaining. Jordan Weal scored the game’s first goal and Claude Giroux picked up a pair of assists.
“The second period got us back on our heels with the eight minutes in penalties we took,” Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t recover in the third period.”
The Jets were 1 for 6 on the power play and the Flyers 0 for 3. Philadelphia has given up a power-play goal in eight of its past nine games.
Mason stopped 30 shots for the Flyers (33-31-8), who were playing its first game of a four-game road trip.
Making his 16th start of the season, and his first since Jan. 16, Michael Hutchinson had 24 saves for the Jets (33-33-7).
The last time Hutchinson chalked up a win as a starter was Dec. 22 in Vancouver, although he recorded the win after he came in for Connor Hellebuyck when the Jets beat Minnesota 5-4 last Sunday.
“I felt good right from the get-go in this game,” Hutchinson said. “I felt I was battling through traffic and seeing pucks earlier.”
The Jets, who have lost six consecutive games (0-4-2) to the Flyers heading into the match, were using three rookie defencemen.
“I think it’s mostly on us to make (the Jets’ rookies) feel uncomfortable,” Mason said. “We’re also facing a goaltender who hasn’t had a start in two months and I don’t think we made it hard enough on him.”
Wayne Simmonds took advantage of an off-balance Hutchinson and sent the puck out front to Weal for his fourth goal of the season at 4:28 of the second period.
Winnipeg tied it up on the power play minutes later when Wheeler’s blast from the point through traffic hit Perreault’s stick and went past Mason at 7:02.
The Jets are 10 points out of the second wild-card spot in the NHL Western Conference, while the Flyers are seven back of Toronto for the second spot in the Eastern Conference.
Jets coach Paul Maurice tipped his hat to his high-powered line, particularly captain Wheeler.
“At the end of the day, I like what Matty Perreault does, I like the way Mark’s playing, but Blake Wheeler has been driving it, as he has done all year,” Maurice said.
Winnipeg begins a two-game road trip Thursday in Los Angeles. Philadelphia visits Minnesota the same day.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected version of an earlier story. Winnipeg is not eight points out of the second wild-card spot in the west, it’s 10 points out.
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