"It’s back," head coach Rick Bowness said post-game when asked about the return of the Jets' swagger. "It gets very frustrating for the players when the puck isn’t going in. They’re making plays, they’re starting to feel good to see that puck finally going in the net for them. We love the fact they’re making those great plays, the D are involved, and that’s how we want to play. It feels good for the guys. I’m happy for the guys to see the puck finally go in the net for them.
Building off of that Friday contest, the Jets opened and closed Sunday’s game in a similar fashion. It was actually the first time in 20 games that Winnipeg had begun back-to-back games with a lead.
After Nino Niederreiter got stopped on an early breakaway, Winnipeg was able to get one by Vitek Vanecek to open the scoring. It came off the stick of red-hot Nikolaj Ehlers just 4:59 into the game.
Niederreiter kept the good times rolling with his second marker in as many games, giving the Jets a quick 2-0 lead before the period came to an end. After failing to score on a power play, Adam Lowry prevented a New Jersey break up-ice with a strong neutral zone play, which led directly to Ehlers’ 11th goal of the season. He stole the puck off the stick of a Devils’ player before getting it to Vladislav Namestnikov. He flipped it to Blake Wheeler, whose rebound landed on the stick of Niederreiter for an easy tap-in for his 24th of the year.
Winnipeg outshot New Jersey 13-7 in the opening 20, before rallying for two more goals in the middle stanza. Although being outshot in the frame, the Jets doubled their lead to 4-0 as the third period approached.
Just three minutes in, Morgan Barron gave Winnipeg a 3-0 lead on a penalty shot marker after being hauled down on a partial break. The goal came less than 10 seconds after Namestnikov rattled a shot off the near post. For Barron, it was his eighth of the season, and it also marked the first time in their 12-year history back in Winnipeg that the Jets recorded two penalty shot goals in a single season. The other came off the stick of Dubois late in December.
“He only brings it out against opposing goalies," Hellebuyck laughed post-game when asked if Barron had ever tested that move on him in practice. "No, that was a beautiful move and he earned it.”
The fourth Jets goal was a milestone marker for Kyle Connor, who hammered home a one-timer from the slot on a setup play from Dubois. The 4-0 dagger came with 9:26 to go, giving Winnipeg 10 goals in a span of 90 minutes after a sensationally dry spell through the month of March.
"They’re veterans, they know," Bowness said. "They know what we’re up against. We have to keep winning. So you enjoy tonight. They’ll have a day off tomorrow because we’ve been on the ice a lot. We’ll have a good practice. We know the importance of Wednesday’s game, so we want to feel good about it. There is still a lot of hard work ahead of us."