Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season and Andrew Copp scored twice in the Winnipeg Jets’ 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Kyle Connor added an empty-net goal in Winnipeg’s first game since a 7-1 loss in Colorado a week ago and just its fourth since Dec. 19. The Jets, who dressed six players on emergency recall, had seven postponements during that stretch.
Hellebuyck, Copp and Connor are Winnipeg’s three Michigan natives, making it a special night for all involved.
“It must be something in the water here, I guess,” Connor said. “We haven’t played here in a while. We spent a lot of time here, grew up here, all three of us idolized the Wings growing up. There’s a little bit of extra pep in your step coming home and playing against the Wings. "
Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 29 shots for Detroit. The Red Wings were shut out for the fifth time this season. They were playing their first game after a winless three-game road trip.
“I thought we had a slow start – it is tough coming back from a West Coast (swing) and pretty much playing the next day,” centre Dylan Larkin said. “Once we got going, I thought we had good energy, but it was already 1-0 against us.”
Copp opened the scoring at 5:41 of the first period. He flicked a shot near the left boards that deflected off defenceman Nick Leddy and caromed behind Nedeljkovic. Defenceman Dylan Samberg, making his NHL debut, was credited with an assist.
Copp’s second goal and 10th of the season came just after Winnipeg killed off a penalty. He lifted a shot over Nedeljkovic’s right shoulder midway through the second period.
“I definitely had a lot of chances tonight,” Copp said. “I could have had more (goals). Happy to come away with a big win, especially missing some guys and not having played in a little while.”
The Red Wings had a 5-on-3 advantage for 47 seconds late in the third period and emptied the net for an extra skater. They still couldn’t get the puck past Hellebuyck.
“It was crazy seeing that happen,” Hellebuyck said. “I haven’t been in too many of those situations. I was thinking I’ve got to earn (the shutout) and the guys in front of me did a phenomenal job.”
Wings coach Jeff Blashill lamented the missed opportunities.
“I thought we generated a lot of good looks,” he said. “Connor is a really good goalie and I thought there were some grade-A chances where we just missed the net,”
Connor fired the puck from his own zone just before the second penalty for his 20th goal of the season.
“The penalty kill was outstanding, especially at the end,” Jets interim coach Dave Lowry said. “Goaltending was outstanding and I really liked the energy the young guys brought. We challenged some of our top guys that we needed them to be our best players tonight and they accepted the challenge.”
The Jets are 12-0 when leading after two periods. ... Paul Stastny, Brenden Dillon and Eric Comrie joined on Thursday a handful of other Jets players in COVID protocol. ... Declan Chisholm made his NHL debut for Winnipeg. ... The Red Wings placed centre Carter Rowney on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 4. Larkin and Connor were selected to play in the All-Star Weekend. ... The teams will meet in Winnipeg on April 6.
Jets: At Washington on Tuesday night.
Red Wings: Host Buffalo on Saturday night.