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Connors Lead Jets to Victory, Break Winless Streak

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The Winnipeg Jets gutted out a victory on Saturday night, beating the Calgary Flames 4–2 to snap a five-game winless streak.

The start was disastrous for the Jets, as the Flames found the back of the net twice to jump out to an early two-goal lead in the first period.

From that point, with the Jets looking fragile and lacking confidence, both of the team’s Connors took over the game.

Kyle Connor scored twice after being reunited with linemates Scheifele and Wheeler. He one-timed a beautiful cross-ice pass from Wheeler early in the third period to tie the game at 2–2.

“I don’t think it really mattered who the lines were tonight,” said Connor after the game. “It’s just one of those games where we needed everybody, and you could see it from our bench. Every little play, every blocked shot, right play, we were cheering them on. That’s what we needed to come out of this.”

Paul Stastny scored the go-ahead goal and Andrew Copp provided some insurance scoring into the empty net after Calgary pulled their goalie in leu of an extra skater.

The other Connor—namely, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck—shut the door on the other end of the ice. He turned aside 34 of 36 shots, including 16 shots in the third period. Hellebuyck was seemingly under siege for long stretches of time, including a third-period penalty kill that saw the Flames generate several grade-A scoring chances as defenceman Brenden Dillon sat in the penalty box for tripping.

“Yeah, he’s our backbone here,” Scheifele said when asked about Hellebuyck. “He stands on his head pretty much every game and he makes some big saves. That was one of those gutsy efforts. He made a lot of gutsy saves, especially toward the end of that game. It was a big one.”

This was a huge win for the Jets, and an all-important rebound performance for Hellebuyck after he was pulled from the crease Friday afternoon in Minnesota where he surrendered four goals on only 14 shots.

The win doesn’t erase all the bad hockey over the past 11 days, but it does temporarily quiet down the Negative Nellys and self-proclaimed social media armchair coaches.

It also moved the team back into third place in the Central Division with a record of 10–7–4 for 24 points. Historically, the teams sitting above the playoff line by American Thanksgiving have a statistical advantage in terms of making the playoffs.

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