WINNIPEG — Nikolaj Ehlers had a hat trick and Patrik Laine became the fourth-youngest player in NHL history to score 100 career goals when he recorded a pair in the Winnipeg Jets’ 6-5 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
Laine scored his 100th and 101st goals in his 178th game at the age of 20 years, 224 days. Wayne Gretzky did it the fastest in 20 years and 40 days. The other players were Jimmy Carson and Brian Bellows.
The Finnish forward now has a league-leading 21 goals this season, 18 scored in November, and 24 points.
Ehlers scored a goal in each period, with his third fired in when he went in alone on goalie Corey Crawford and beat him with a low shot at 9:45 of the third period to make it 6-3. It was his third career hat trick.
Jacob Trouba also notched a goal and one assist for Winnipeg (14-8-2), while Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler each had three assists.
Marcus Kruger, John Hayden, Jan Rutta, Domink Kahun and Artem Anisimov for Chicago (9-12-5). Anisimov’s goal came at 17:08 of the third to squeeze the score to 6-5. David Kampf contributed a pair of assists and Hayden added one.
Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves for the Jets, who were 1-3-0 in their four previous games.
Crawford stopped 27 shots for the Blackhawks, who are 1-4-0 in their last five games.
Three goals were scored in the first four minutes of the opening period, which ended tied 2-2.
Laine used a rebound to score his 20th goal of the season at 1:43. Kruger flipped in a bouncing puck at 3:03 and Ehlers regained Winnipeg’s lead 49 seconds later. Hayden tied it with a rebound off Kampf’s breakaway shot at 8:10.
Winnipeg jumped out to a 4-2 lead early in the second period when Ehlers scored his seventh goal of the season at 1:01 and Trouba notched his second of the season 45 seconds later.
Jets defenceman Cameron Schilling, called up from the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose on Wednesday, picked up the secondary assist of Ehlers’ goal, the first point of his seven-game NHL career. The 30-year-old Indiana native hadn’t played an NHL game since March 2015 when he was with Washington.
Schilling and fellow defenceman Sami Niku were on the ice replacing injured blue-liners Dustin Byfuglien and Joe Morrow.
Hellebuyck missed a glove save on a long shot by Rutta at 9:31 to squeeze the score 4-3.
Winnipeg went into the third period up 27-18 in shots on goal after holding the Blackhawks to five shots in the middle frame.
Laine scored on the power play at 1:18 of the third. He has 14 points (13 goals, one assist) in his past seven games. Ehlers followed up at 9:45, but Kahun sent a loose puck in front of the crease past Hellebuyck at 13:16 and Anisimov made it 17:08 with a quick shot from the side of the net.
The Jets head out for a three-game road trip starting against New Jersey on Saturday. Chicago ends its quick two-game road trip Saturday in Nashville.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press