WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Winnipeg’s patchwork top line pushed the Jets past the New York Islanders.
Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had a goal and an assist on the re-worked top line and the Jets beat the Islanders 4-2 on Friday night.
Wheeler played center in place of the injured Mark Scheifele, with Connor on left wing and Patrik Laine on the right. Laine had two assists. Scheifele missed his first game and is expected to be out six to eight weeks with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
“We did a good job,” Wheeler said. “Unfortunately, (Scheifele) is not coming back any time soon so we’ve got to rely on the guys in the room. Everyone takes responsibility in that, everyone has got to step their game up a little bit. Do a little bit more, do a little bit better. So far, so good.”
Shawn Matthias, a healthy scratch for 11 straight games, had his first goal of the season, and Adam Lowry tipped in a power-play marker and also had an assist. Connor Hellebuyck made 42 saves to reach 20 victories and help Winnipeg improve to 14-3-1 at home.
I think pucks were just hitting me and I was seeing it well,” Hellebucyk said. “The guys were in the right spots. I like our effort tonight. I like how we were able to put four (goals) against them because they’re not an easy team and it feels good.”
Anders Lee scored his 23rd and 24th goals for the Islanders, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 33 shots.
Winnipeg Jets’ Bryan Little (18) and New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd (16) collide during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
“We’re going to try not to be too frustrated, but obviously we would have loved to have capitalized on some of those opportunities in all three periods,” Islanders star John Tavares said. “(Hellebuyck) played well. Some chances we’d like to have back, especially with the type of shooters and touch we have around the net on this team.”
The Jets led 2-0 after the first period and 2-1 after the second.
Matthias got onto the roster, and the fourth line, with Scheifele’s absence and capitalized quickly. On his first shift, he scored off Lowry’s rebound at 2:32. The veteran forward only played in one of the previous 21 games and his last goal was March 8.
The new top line clicked to make it 2-0. Laine passed to Connor, who went to the net and then slid the puck across to Wheeler for his 10th goal of the season with 3:03 left in the first.
Lee tipped in Tavares’ one-timer to get his team on the board at 14:46. Tavares extended his point streak to nine games with four goals and 14 assists. Josh Bailey also assisted, moving his point streak to 10 games with six goals and 12 helpers.
The Islanders also outshot the Jets 19-12 in the second.
New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) saves the breakaway attempt by Winnipeg Jets’ Joel Armia (40) during second-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
Winnipeg restored its two-goal lead when Connor scored his 12th of the season at 3:01 of the third off a pass from Laine.
Jets forward Mathieu Perreault hit the post in the third and former Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd was stymied by Hellebuyck.
Lowry tipped in Jacob Trouba’s point shot with just under eight minutes remaining to make it 4-1, and Lee scored his second goal just over four minutes later.
Islanders: At Colorado in Sunday night
Jets: At Edmonton on Sunday night.