Nikolaj Ehlers, Jets beat Coyotes 4-2

WINNIPEG – Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and two assists to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes in a critical Western Conference contest on Monday night.

Recent Jets acquisition Cody Eakin broke a 2-2 tie at 11:33 of the third period when he picked up the puck and backhanded a shot past Arizona netminder Darcy Kuemper. It was his first goal since being acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 21.

The victory moves the Jets (36-28-6) to 78 points, four ahead of Arizona (33-29-8) and one above the West’s wild-card line.

Mark Scheifele, with an empty-netter and defenceman Tucker Poolman also scored for Winnipeg.

Nick Schmaltz scored both goals for Arizona.

Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves while Kuemper had 30.

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It was the last of a three-game homestand for the Jets, who have won six straight home games to improve to 20-14-3 at Bell MTS Place.

After once trailing 2-0, Poolman knotted the score late in the second period when pounced on Eakin’s rebound, with Ehlers also assisting.

Ehlers pulled the Jets to within 2-1 early in the second when he took a stretch pass from Poolman at the blueline, sped around the defenders, then beat Kuemper with a soft knuckler.

The Coyotes jumped to a 2-0 lead late in the first period. With just 1.2 seconds on the clock, Schmaltz pounced on a Phil Kessel rebound and beat Hellebuyck with his second goal of the game.

After taking a pass from Kessel, Schmaltz opened the scoring when he skated around Neil Pionk and beat Hellebuyck with a high shot at the 15:50 mark of the first.

The Jets will now embark on a three-game road trip through Western Canada, with the first game against the Oilers in Edmonton on Wednesday.

NOTES: Jets coach Paul Maurice passed Ken Hitchcock (1,598) to move into sole possession of fifth place in all-time games as an NHL head coach on Monday night … Jets centre Adam Lowry returned to action after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury. He fought Lawson Crouse on his first shift.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 9, 2020

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