Jets beat Coyotes 4-2 to earn home-ice in 1st round
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Winnipeg Jets got the victory they wanted in the regular-season finale.
Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor each had a goal and an assist as the Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 Saturday night to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“We knew what was going on,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We came here today knowing we were going to have an opportunity for home-ice in the first round or not, that’s what was at stake, so we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.”
The Jets finished tied for second in the Central Division with St. Louis, but will have home-ice in their opening-round series due to a tiebreaker with more regulation/overtime wins.
“It was a good way to close it out,” Connor said. “Now we turn the page and focus on St. Louis.”
Jacob Trouba and Nikolaj Ehlers also scored, and Blake Wheeler had his 71st assist for Winnipeg, which won just two of its last seven games (2-4-1) to give up a four-point lead in the Central Division. Nashville, which won earlier Saturday night, earned its second straight division title, edging the Jets by one point.
“Things haven’t come easy for us recently,” Wheeler said. “I thought we deserved a better result in Colorado (a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday). Get a good feeling in our room. A lot of excitement for what is going to be a good series.”
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 19 shots.
Alex Galchenyuk and Brad Richardson scored for Arizona, which finished with 39 wins — 10 more than last season. Calvin Pickard had 28 saves.
Scheifele scored his 38th goal to tie the score late in the first period, after Galchenyuk’s 19th had given the Coyotes a 1-0 lead 2:21 in.
Winnipeg then scored three times in the second to take control. Trouba put the Jets ahead for good with his eighth at 2:35, and Connor scored his 34th to make it 3-1 with 9:55 left in the period - just 2 seconds after a power play ended but before the Coyotes’ fifth skater could get in the play. Ehlers gave Winnipeg a three-goal lead with 21st with 4:39 left.
The line of centered by Scheifele with Connor and Wheeler on the wings, reunited early this month, had five points.
“Ever since we got put back together, we’ve been trending in the right direction,” Connor said. “Each game, our game is growing, and we are learning a lot from each other.”
Richardson capped the scoring with his 19th about 3 1/2 minutes into the third. He set a career high at age 34.
“We started OK, but you could tell the emotion that was there the last couple of months was lacking a bit,” Richardson said.
NOTES: Hellenbuyck played in 63 regular-season games, third in the league among goalies behind Minnesota’s Devyn Dubnyk (67) and Montreal’s Carey Price (66). ... Coyotes G Darcy Kuemper finished with a 2.33 goals-against average, the lowest among goalies who played at leasts 50 games. Kuemper and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy had a .925 save percentage, the highest among goalies with at least 50 games.
Jets: Open the first round of the playoffs at home against St. Louis.
Coyotes: Missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.