By Scott Taylor/Photo by James Carey Lauder
Since being eliminated from the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets have become the hottest team in the National Hockey League.
On Thursday night in Columbus, goalie Eric Comrie got a win in his NHL debut, defenseman Jacob Trouba scored twice and veteran centre Bryan Little had a four-point night as the Jets beat the playoff-bound Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Jets have now won six straight games. It’s the first time this franchise has won six straight since it moved from Atlanta in 2011. The Jets are now 39-35-7 on the season and remain ninth in the Western Conference. They are also 8-2-0 in the last 10 games.
“He (Comrie) was very, very good,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “The little things: Rebound control, the number of quick shots that came to him and he got off into the corner and we didn’t have to fight for them. A smaller goalie has to be, positionally, really sound to play in this league. There were three or four he got with his shoulder or his blocker that was all technique. Very pleased for him. He deserved to win based on the number of shots that he faced and I’m happy for him.”
Columbus opened the scoring at the 6:58 mark of the first period as Nick Foligno scored his 26th of the season, but the Jets tallied the next three.
At 13:54 of the first period, Trouba scored his first of the night and seventh of the season on the power play from Little and Joel Armia and then Mark Scheifele scored his 32nd of the year from Blake Wheeler and Andrew Copp at 15:25 of the first. Leading 2-1 after the first period, Mathieu Perreault made it 3-1 with his 13th of the year from Little at 3:49 of the second.
But Columbus, the third place team in the Metro Division, got back-to-back goals from Brandon Saad – his 23rd and 24th of the season — at 7:12 and 12:35 of the second.
The game was tied in the third when Trouba scored his eighth of the year at 4:06 – his second power play goal of the night – from Perreault and Little and then Little tallied his 21st of the campaign from Perreault and Julian Melchiori to give the Jets a 5-3 lead.
Boone Jenner scored at the 14:00 minute mark to make it 5-4 but that was it. Comrie proceeded to shut the door as he won his NHL debut after being called up from the Manitoba in the morning.
“He (Comrie) looked really focused, would be the word,” said Maurice. “I thought you could clearly see that in the morning skate. You didn’t see any nerves, he looked like he’d come to work. He looked the same this morning as he did tonight.”
Columbus outshot Winnipeg 39-32 as Comrie clearly outdueled Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo. Winnipeg was two-for-three on the power play while Columbus didn’t have the man advantage all night.
Jets rookie Jack Roslovic also made his NHL debut on Thursday and. As these things go, he made his debut in his hometown. He logged eight minutes and 24 seconds of ice time and was minus-one with one shot on goal and one blocked shot.
The Jets will finish the 2016-17 season on Saturday night at MTS Centre when they face the Nashville Predators at 6 p.m.