Wheeler's 2 goals, 3 assists lead Jets over Predators 5-2
By JIM DIAMOND
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Blake Wheeler scored two goals and assisted on three others to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists and Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois also scored for Winnipeg, which has won two of its last three. Connor Hellebuyck made 34 saves and Josh Morrissey had two assists.
"For us to be successful, you need your best players," Winnipeg interim coach Dave Lowry said. "They stayed with the game. We got down early and we didn't waver. We bent and I really liked the resiliency and I really liked the fact that our top guys dug in and really found a way to win."
Mikael Granlund and Matt Duchene scored, and Juuse Saros made 38 saves for Nashville, which has lost three of four.
With the game tied at two goals apiece midway through the third period, Nashville defenseman Mark Borowiecki was assessed a major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct after he came into contact with the head of Winnipeg's Evgeny Svechnikov.
"The challenge right now is obviously the penalties, and it's something that particularly the last two games, it certainly cost us games," Nashville coach John Hynes said. "I think that's the challenge for the players. It's also the challenge for the coaches. This isn't something that can continue to move forward and go the way it is."
Wheeler and Dubois scored on the ensuing power play to earn the win.
"I think we went out there with a lot confidence knowing that was the hockey game," Wheeler said. "We had to bury one. Regardless of the scenario, you get five minutes on the power play with the game on the line, you want to make it count."
Granlund scored the game's first goal at 3:26 of the opening period.
Filip Forsberg carried the puck into the Winnipeg zone and the puck bounced away from him in the high slot. Fortunately for Forsberg, the puck headed right for Granlund above the left circle, where he hammered a one-timer by Hellebuyck for his seventh goal of the season.
Duchene briefly gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 6:19 of the first, but Scheifele's goal under two minutes later halved Nashville's lead.
Scheifele's goal, a one-timer from the left faceoff dot, came with the teams skating 4-on-4. He has scored in three straight games.
Entering Saturday, Nashville was 17-0-0 this season when leading after the first period.
Connor made it 2-2 at 9:58 of the second with a power-play goal. The goal was also Connor's 300th career NHL point.
Wheeler added an empty-net goal with just over three minutes remaining. Wheeler had two goals on the season prior to Saturday.
It was the second career five-point game for Wheeler.
Connor played his 350th career NHL game Saturday, making him the second-fastest player in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history to reach 300-point mark. Only Ilya Kovalchuk was faster to record 300 points. Kovalchuk, who was selected first overall by the Thrashers in the 2001 Entry Draft, scored his 300th point in his 300th game played.
With his first period assist on Granlund's game-opening goal, Forsberg extended his point-scoring streak to six games. Over that stretch, Forsberg has five goals and five assists.
Duchene also has a six-game streak. He has six goals and two assists in that stretch.
The Jets play 11 games in a span of 20 days following the All-Star break. Saturday marked the third post-ASG game for the Jets, with all three coming against Central Division opponents. Eight of the 11 come against teams from the Central, with the other three from the Pacific Division.
Predators: Host Washington on Tuesday.
Jets: Host Chicago on Monday.
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Updated February 12, 2022