Andrew Copp and Sami Niku Lead Jets Past Wild 4-1

WINNIPEG — Andrew Copp and Sami Niku factored into a pair of goals 38 seconds apart to spark the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-1 exhibition victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.

Jets forward Andrew Copp
Jets forward Andrew Copp (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Copp took a long cross-ice pass from the Finnish defenceman and fired a high shot past Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen 59 seconds into the game.

Niku and Copp then drew assists on Blake Wheeler’s one-timer at 1:37 for the 2-0 lead.

Wheeler also assisted on defenceman Josh Morrissey’s power-play goal late in the third period, while forward C.J. Suess added an empty-net goal with 1:15 remaining.

Backup goalie Laurent Brossoit stopped 20 shots for the Jets, who were playing the first of four exhibition home games. They lost 2-0 to the Oilers in Edmonton Monday.

Nico Sturm banged in his own rebound for Minnesota at 8:44 of the third period to make it 2-1.

Kahkonen made 18 saves for the Wild and Mat Robson started the third period and stopped 10. Minnesota lost 2-1 in overtime to Dallas on Tuesday.

The Wild were icing a young roster and it showed in the scoreless second period. It took the visitors almost 11 minutes to get their first shot on goal and they finished with seven in the frame.

Sami Niku Winnipeg Jets
Sami Niku, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Jets suited up a number of their veterans, although key players remained absent.

Goal-scoring restricted free agents Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor are in contract negotiations with the team and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien is on a personal leave of absence.

Niku is one of a number of blue-liners auditioning for regular spots since the club lost three defencemen in the off-season.

Jacob Trouba was traded to the New York Rangers, Tyler Myers was a free-agent signing by the Vancouver Canucks and Ben Chiarot inked a deal with the Montreal Canadiens.

Niku, 22, played 30 games with the Jets last season, scoring one goal and adding three assists.

Winnipeg hosts the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Friday. Minnesota is home to Colorado on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2019.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press