Connor, Ehlers lead Jets to 5-1 win over Blackhawks

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and had an assist, and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 on Friday night.

Paul Stastny, Neal Pionk and Dominic Toninato also scored in Winnipeg’s fourth straight home win. Andrew Copp assisted on three goals for the Jets, who have posted their best start to a regular season (6-2-2) in the team’s modern era.

“You want to be as big of a part of the team (as possible),” Copp said. “I think we’ve had a great group here for a long time, it feels like. We’ve added some pieces this year that feel like we round out the group pretty good, so we take a lot of ownership in how we play and how we perform.”

Eric Comrie stopped 16 shots, losing a bid for his first career shutout on MacKenzie Entwistle’s short-handed goal in the opening minute of the third period.

“It would be cool, it would be my first NHL shutout, something I’m looking forward to,” Comrie said. “I’d be crazy to say it’s not going through my mind … but I’m just trying to focus on the moment and play, focus on the process.

“It was a good play by them. I was trying to steal the post. It was bang-bang off the backboard right to the guy. Kind of a weird play on our power play, so it’s unfortunate”

Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves as the Blackhawks lost for the 11th time in 12 games (1-9-2).

“It’s been hard on the players, the stretch we’ve been going through,” Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We’ve had some good performances we haven’t gotten rewarded for, and it weighs on you. There’s no excuse. We can’t give ourselves a chance to win when you have the type of performance that we did tonight. But all we can do is move onto the next one and come out with energy and compete level and do a better job.”

Stastny finished a three-way passing sequence with Copp and Ehlers just 47 seconds after the opening faceoff to get Winnipeg on the scoreboard first.

Pionk beat Fleury with a booming shot from the faceoff dot for a power-play goal at 2:23.

The Blackhawks thought a power-play goal had pulled them within a goal early in the second, but Ryan Carpenter’s effort was negated when the Jets successfully challenged for offside on the play. It was the second straight game in which Winnipeg reversed a goal by successfully challenging for offside.

Toninato earned his first deking Fleury on a feed from Copp with 6:12 remaining in the second to make it 3-0.’

Connor gave the Jets a 4-0 lead with 4:43 left in the middle period as he drove the wing and wired a shot by Fleury for a team-leading eighth goal of the season.

Ehlers scored his third of the season late in the third after Entwistle’s shot from a difficult angle surprised Comrie less than a minute into the period.

STATUS

Winnipeg was missing top goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who was ill but did not test positive for COVID-19, the Jets said Friday. Mikhail Berdin was called up from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose to back up Comrie.

UP NEXT

Blackhawks: Host Nashville on Sunday.

Jets: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday,.

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