The Winnipeg Jets ended a 6 game home losing streak. But the misery continued for Montreal. Mark Scheifele scored 3 goals in a 4-2 win over the Canadiens to give the Jets their first home victory since late January. The Habs went 0 for 4 on a road trip,that saw them out scored 16-8. The 9-0 start to the season must seem so long ago for Montreal who have just 11 wins in their last 40 games.
Scheifele’s first professional hat trick also gave him his first 20 goal season, with eighteen more games to add to that total. “To play against a good team like them on Hockey Night in Canada, it makes it that much better,” said the soon to be 22 year old Center. “It was a hard fought game, frustrating at times.”
Part of that frustratuon was manufactured by Montreal coming from behind twice on Alex Galchenyuk’s 20th and 21st goals of the season. The first one came just 1:13 after Scheifele had snapped a scoreless tie early in the second period. The red hot Jet, now with 8 goals in as many games, stripped PK Subban of the puck at the Canadiens blueline and then deked goalie Mike Condon in tight for a 1-0 lead.
Rookie Andrew Copp made it 2-1 early in the third when he deflected a Ben Chiarot left point shot for his second goal in three games. And he liked the way the Jets refused to let bad thoughts invade their game when Galchenyuk tied it for a second time less than four minutes later. “We kept getting the lead, they kept getting it back,” said Copp. “There was some good perseverance in our room. Great night for “Scheif.”
Land it was after redirecting a Drew Stafford pass-shot while cutting in front of the Montreal net wih just under 7:00 to play. The hat trick was completed with an empty net goal at 19:31 that Scheifele buried like Condon was still between the pipes.
Head Coach Paul Maurice says there’s no secret about why his new number one Center has caught fire. “It’s just skating for me,” said Maurice after the game. “When he brings his speed as the first thing he puts on the ice, he’s a real good player.”
The Jets bench boss was also impressed with the performance of rookie defence man Josh Morrissey in his NHL debut. “I liked his game. Thought he was quick. He’s smart, he moves the puck well, he has a good vision. What you always wonder, even with smooth skating players is will they be able to change that gear, go back and touch the puck first. Win enough battles down low.”
Morrissey said he slept surprisingly well during his game day nap. And also felt calm, even after he was named to the starting lineup. “I think that has a lot to do with the other guys on the team, said Morrissey. Playing with Tyler (Myers), it’s self explanatory. He just kept me calm.”
And of course there was Dustin Byfuglien to keep it light. Morrissey says he over heard a few team mates saying “you’re 1-0” after the game. “Buff said kinda jokingly, the NHL’s pretty easy, isn’t it.”
At least for one night it wasn’t a tough loss for a Jets team with just three wins in fourteen home games since the start of 2016. And Winnipeg will try and build off that momentum when they host Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday Night at 6pm.