Ehlers gets 3 goals and Jets beat Coyotes 5-2
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — It was instant chemistry for Nikolaj Ehlers and his new linemates on Tuesday night.
The 19-year-old had his first hat trick and Dustin Byfuglien added two goals and an assist to help the Winnipeg Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Tuesday night in their last game before the All-Star break.
Veteran winger Blake Wheeler assisted on all of Ehlers’ goals in his first game on a line with Ehlers, and the rookie extended his point streak to four games.
“It’s tough to find, and it doesn’t happen much,” Ehlers said of the connection he had with new linemates Mark Scheifele and Wheeler. “I think we all have great speed and we used that well today.”
Ehlers is the first rookie to get a hat trick for the Jets franchise since Kamil Piros had one with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2003 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s awesome that I got the three goals, but that we ended off before the break with a win (is better),” Ehlers said.
Brad Richardson and Anthony Duclair scored for Arizona.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 32 shots for the Jets.
Louis Domingue started for Arizona and made 20 saves before being relieved by Anders Lindback for the third period. Lindback stopped all 12 shots he faced.
Ehlers opened the scoring on the power play 6:55 into the first, capitalizing on Mark Stone’s second penalty of the game.
“You put yourself in a hole when you take penalties early,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “You get down too early and you’re chasing the game. When you’re a team that played the night before, it’s not a good recipe for you.”
A challenge from Arizona coach Dave Tippett was needed before Ehlers’ goal became official, but a review determined Byfuglien did not interfere with Domingue while Wheeler’s rebound found Ehlers’ stick.
Ehlers scored his second with 6:07 remaining in the first by knocking Wheeler’s centering pass out of mid-air, off the post and off Domingue’s back and in to make it 2-0.
Byfuglien extended Winnipeg’s lead to 3-0 6 minutes into the second. Byfuglien made it look like he’d dump the puck into the zone, then turned his hips and released a slap shot that fooled Domingue from center ice.
“I’ve tried it a few times throughout the year and it was finally nice to get one cheating,” Byfuglien said. “I pay attention every game. Watch them. Watch every goalie (and) how quick they come out. That one, they just had four guys back and everyone was just waiting for the rim and kind of cheated to that side, so I decided to turn on it and got a good bounce.”
Ehlers completed the hat trick at 14:31 of the second, taking Wheeler’s centering pass while coasting backward before wiring a wrister high-blocker on Domingue. It was the 19-year-old’s first multipoint game of the season. He has 12 goals and 10 assists in 49 games.
With Jets defensemen Ben Chiarot and Jacob Trouba off for holding and high sticking, respectively, late in the second, Winnipeg’s 28th-ranked penalty kill went to work down 5-on-3 for 1:45 against Arizona’s 14th-ranked power play. But the Coyotes played dangerously, allowing Bryan Little a breakaway moments before Byfuglien cashed in on his own for his 14th goal of the season.
NOTES: The Jets remain perfect at home against Arizona — 6-0-0 since the franchise relocated from Atlanta in 2011.