DDN Sports NHL: Jets, without Trouba, rally to defeat Sabres from TSN
WINNIPEG — Tuesday began badly for the Winnipeg Jets, but they were a happier team by the end of the day.
Trailing the Buffalo Sabres midway through the second period, the Jets took over the game with three goals in 4:46 and won 5-1 at MTS Centre to end a two-game losing streak.
The Jets began the day with the news that defenseman Jacob Trouba will be out until February with an upper-body injury. Trouba joined defensemen Zach Bogosian and Toby Enstrom, who each is out with a lower-body injury.
Mark Scheifele scored twice, and Michael Frolik, Evander Kane and Chris Thorburn had a goal each for the Jets (16-10-6).
Scheifele, who had an assist on Kane’s goal, has three goals in his past three games after scoring three times in his first 29. The three-point game matched his career-high; he had a goal and two assists last Thursday in a 4-3 shootout win against the Colorado Avalanche.
"It felt good," Scheifele said. "I think the biggest thing is the team came out hungry right from the start, and I think that’s what led to all of the chances we had and the game we played."
The line of Scheifele centering Mathieu Perreault on the left side and Frolik on right wing combined for six points (three goals, three assists).
"[Scheifele and Perreault], they are skilled players," Frolik said. "They can find ice, and they can make plays."
Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves for the Jets.
Nikita Zadorov scored for the Sabres (13-17-2), who had a four-game winning streak end. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth gave Jhonas Enroth a night off for the first time in four games and made 31 saves.
"I expect a little better from myself than I showed tonight," said Neuvirth, who admitted that he was rusty.
The Sabres arrived in Winnipeg early Tuesday following their long flight after a 5-4 shootout win at home against the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Buffalo was without defenseman Josh Gorges, who missed his second consecutive game with a hand injury.
The Jets attacked the Sabres early, outshooting them 6-0 through the game’s first 10:32, but Buffalo coach Ted Nolan did not blame the schedule.
"Maybe not physically, but mentally, we just made a couple of really crucial mistakes at bad times," Nolan said.
The game started to shift for the Sabres late in the first period. Buffalo had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:50 late in the first.
The Sabres scored on their third man-advantage opportunity of the first period after Jets forward Blake Wheeler went off for slashing at 17:34. Zadorov snuck a wrist shot through a crowd in front of Pavelec for his second goal of the season at 19:17.
The Sabres had one road power-play goal before Zadorov’s goal.
"That power play, even before we scored, I thought it gave us momentum, and that’s what you’re looking for," Sabres captain Brian Gionta said.
Scheifele drew the Jets even in the second period just as their second power play of the game expired. He put a wrist shot over Neuvirth’s right shoulder from the right circle at 9:31.
"He’s a really good shooter if he gets it off quickly," Jets coach Paul Maurice said of Scheifele. “Confidence is everything with those kind of guys. It is repetition and confidence. He’s got to shoot that puck every chance he’s got.”
Frolik made it 2-1 with a shorthanded goal 2:04 after Scheifele scored his first of the night, finishing a 2-on-1 on a pass from Jim Slater 10 seconds into Buffalo’s fourth power play. Frolik, who had 15 goals in 81 games last season, has moved to a second-line role with the Jets this season and has seven goals in 32 games.
"If you get a chance [shorthanded], you want to take it, but the first mindset is to kill it," Frolik said.
Frolik’s three shorthanded goals rank second in the NHL.
"It’s a momentum-killer right there," Nolan said. "We know it’s tough for us to battle back and get some goals, so when you let one up like that, it’s a backbreaker."
Scheifele made it 3-1 at 14:17 when he converted another 2-on-1 for his second goal of the game, sixth of the season. Perreault’s assist on the goal extended his point streak to five games (one goal, four assists).
"I played with [Perreault] a little at the beginning of the [season], and you see the amount of skill that he has, the patience he has with the puck, the vision he has," Scheifele said. "I’m pretty lucky to play with [Frolik and Perreault]."
Kane’s first goal since Nov. 25 made it 4-1. He converted a pass from Wheeler on the power play for his fifth goal 1:11 into the third period.
Thorburn’s second of the season with 7:21 left finished the scoring.
"We hurt ourselves tonight," Gionta said. "Whether it’s odd-man rushes, giveaways that lead to those chances, we hurt ourselves. If you give teams in this league that many chances, they’re going to make you pay, and they did."
The giveaways and missed assignments irked Nolan, who limited ice time for two of his players. Center Cody Hodgson played 4:55, and defenseman Andrej Meszaros was limited to 9:04.
"When you’re trying to change the culture and change the approach that we want to implement in Buffalo, those types of plays and approach can’t be tolerated," Nolan said. "We got [into Winnipeg] at a half-decent time. We got some rest. We got our nutrition. What’s between the ears and what’s inside the heart, you have to battle, you have to compete, and you can’t let someone steal the puck from you when it’s a 1-1 game and you’re on the road and you’re trying to get some points."
Even missing their top three defensemen, the Jets managed to stifle the Sabres for much of the game.
"The guys stepped up," Pavelec said. "We have a lot of injuries, but every team deals with it. So we have to deal with it. It happens to everybody. We have enough players to feel confident, and I think the guys did a great job."
Maurice emphasized strong puck support for his defensemen and a focus on simplifying breakouts to help ease the transition to new faces on the blue line.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of helping the [defense] out, and I thought the [defense] played off each other pretty well and moved the puck pretty efficiently," Maurice said.