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Jets Off to a Great, Inconsistent Start

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The Winnipeg Jets will complete a season high seven-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

After earning points in five of their last six games, the Jets find themselves in a battle for top spot in the Central Division with an 8–3–3 record for 19 points. They’re off to one of their hottest starts since relocating from Atlanta, tying their previous best during the 2017–2018 season.

In 2018, the Jets went on to finish second in the Central Division and defeated the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators in the first two rounds of the playoffs en route to their only appearance in the Western Conference finals.

The roster has undergone a significant makeover since then. The Jets have a deeper and more experienced forward group. The defence barely resembles the backend from four years ago. Josh Morrissey is the lone member of the current defence squad active on both rosters.

While some observers might be happy with the start, the Jets are still trying to get better and find their identity.

“That’s the feeling in the room, that there’s something really good here and when we get to that level, it’s pretty good,” said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. “We’ve shown the ability to be pretty powerful. When we get our feet moving, get on pucks, we create a lot of chances.”

Reaching that level and staying there consistently is a work-in-progress. The Jets showed flashes of this identity in the first period of Saturday’s 3–2 overtime win against the L.A. Kings.

Kyle Connor drove the net and buried a rebound to open the scoring, but the Kings came back, tying the game just over two minutes later. The Kings took the lead in the second period when former Jet Brendan Lemieux pushed in a rebound at 14:22. The Jets looked flat for most of the middle frame, mustering just two shots.

Dylan DeMelo scored the tying game after the Jets in third, his first goal in 132 games and his first as a Jet.

“A huge relief, there was definitely some frustration,” said DeMelo after the game. “Obviously, if you play defence you’re not maybe relied on to score, but you want to contribute and there’s no feeling like scoring. So it was nice to get that one and the timing was crucial, and to be able to contribute in that sense, it feels really good. I don’t do it often so I’m happy to contribute and get a big goal for us.”

Head coach Paul Maurice elected to start three forwards in three-on-three overtime. Maurice went with the trio of Scheifele, Ehlers, and Copp instead of riding the hot hands of Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor.

Both Scheifele and Ehlers were still in pursuit of their first goals of the season and many fans were left scratching their collective heads, still trying to understand the decision, when Scheifele ripped a one-timer past Kings goalie Cal Peterson 32 seconds into overtime.

“Yeah, it felt good,” said Scheifele. “It felt good to end that one. It was a grind of a game and we started to pick our game up toward the end of that third period and play a little more grinding style. You need to be able to pull those ones off in this league.”

The Jets will close out their seven-game homestand on Tuesday and a win would give them their best start to the season since relocating.

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