LAS VEGAS — Patrik Laine scored twice and Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Vegas Golden Knights 6-3 on Friday night.
The Central Division-leading Jets entered 2-4-2 in their previous eight games but rebounded from an embarrassing 7-1 loss at Colorado on Wednesday to improve to 12-3-2 against Pacific Division opponents this season. The Jets are 22-4-4 in their last 30 games versus the Pacific Division since last season.
Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp also scored for Winnipeg. Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little each had two assists. Hellebuyck snapped his two-game skid to improve to 27-17-2.
The victory was Paul Maurice’s 685th as an NHL coach. He passed Pat Quinn for eighth on the career list.
The high-flying Jets, who average 3.35 goals per game, sixth-best in the league, scored more than three for only the second time in nine games.
Pierre Edouard Bellemare, Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves.
Fleury has lost five in a row and eight of his past 10 starts, allowing 24 goals over his last six games.
The Golden Knights are 3-9-1 in the past month, during which they’ve been outscored 45-30. They have just one win in their last eight home games (1-6-1).
Ehlers wasted no time in his first game back after missing 20 with an upper-body injury. He buried a rebound at the doorstep 56 seconds in to give Winnipeg the early lead. It was Ehlers’ first goal since a hat trick at San Jose on Dec. 20.
Connor made it 2-0 just 32 seconds later when he beat Fleury top shelf with a quick shot over his left shoulder. Connor, who also assisted on Ehlers’ goal, has owned Vegas since its inception, as he leads the Jets in scoring against the second-year franchise with nine points — six of them goals — in five games.
Bellemare finally breathed life into the Golden Knights and a disgruntled crowd late in the first period. Ryan Reaves caught the puck on an entry into the zone and dished to Tomas Nosek, who backhanded pass to Bellemare. He beat Hellebuyck low to the glove side to cut Winnipeg’s lead in half.
Theodore took advantage of a screen in front of Hellebuyck and fired a wrist shot through traffic to tie the game midway through the second period.
But just as the Jets opened the game with a two quick goals, they ended the second period with a pair in 27 seconds. First, with the league’s fifth-best power play, Laine beat Fleury for a power-play goal — his first in 15 games. Then it was Lowry with just 3.7 seconds left before the horn to give the Jets a 4-2 lead.
Marchessault ignited the home crowd eight seconds into the third period when he took a pass from William Karlsson and rifled a wrist shot over Hellebuyck’s right shoulder to make it a one-goal game.
With the Jets enjoying a 5-on-3 power play, Wheeler fed Laine at the left circle for a one-timer as the first-line tandem made it look easy for a second time in the game to push Winnipeg’s lead back to two.
Copp’s empty-netter provided the final margin.
NOTES: The Jets played minus standout defenceman Dustin Byfuglien for the third consecutive game because of a lower-body injury. He will miss at least the rest of the road trip. … Wheeler’s assist on Laine’s first goal gave him his fourth consecutive 70-point season. … Vegas centre Paul Stastny has a point in 17 of his last 24 games (five goals, 17 assists). … Little’s two assists gave him 300 for his career. … Vegas wing Reilly Smith has a point in six of his last eight games (one goal, seven assists).
Jets: Play at Arizona on Sunday.
Golden Knights: Host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
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W.G. Ramirez, The Associated Press