By DARRIN BAUMING
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Monday, January 8, 2018
WINNIPEG -- Mathieu Perreault's two goals on Sunday afternoon lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks while also continuing the club's torrid pace on home ice this season.
Winnipeg (25-11-7), which leads the NHL's Central Division with 57 points, captured its fifth straight win at home to move three points ahead of the Nashville Predators.
"It's great coming to the rink knowing we have a strong game here at home," Perreault said.
"Not so sure why it's been that way, but we're having a lot of fun right now. We're just really happy with how things are going."
The Jets are among the NHL's best on home ice with a 16-3-1 record at Bell MTS Place and their home power-play unit ranks No. 1 in the league.
"I feel like we've been able to find the lanes and get a lot of pucks on goal," said Perreault, whose first goal came with the man advantage to give the Jets a 3-1 lead. "A lot of goals that we've scored, just like tonight's goal, was just kind of a rebound, just banging pucks around the crease.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said confidence has been the key to his team's success at home.
"We also know that a big chunk of our home games are still ahead of us," Maurice said.
"November, December were tough schedules. We made the most of our home games which was really really critical.
"Some of those road trips can be a little taxing for your club, so you gotta be good at home."
The Jets opened the scoring midway through the first period after Matt Hendricks was sent in alone on the breakaway. He beat San Jose goaltender Martin Jones glove side on the backhand for his fourth goal of the season and third point in four games.
Winnipeg made it 2-0 midway through the second period after Marko Dano scored his second goal of the season, deflecting a Jacob Trouba point shot.
Logan Couture scored San Jose's only goal on the power play. The Jets had held off the Sharks for over a minute of 5-on-3 play before Couture notched his 16th of the season and first goal since Dec. 9.
"We would have liked to get another power-play goal and shut them down on our [penalty kill]," Couture said. "But they scored some timely goals that won the game. The third was tough to come back down two against that team in the third period. They shut it down pretty good."
"I thought we were in the game," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. "They jumped on us in the first five, six minutes. I thought we knew that was going to happen and I thought we got our legs underneath us. I really liked our game. Really, the third goal was killer."
The Sharks are 21-13-6 and in third place in the Pacific Division.
"Over all, we're okay," DeBoer said. "We're not perfect. We're not exactly where we want to be, but it could be worse."
Andrew Copp and Tyler Myers each had two assists for the Jets.
Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves for his 23rd victory of the season, while Jones finished with 26 stops in the loss.
With an assist on Perreault's power-play goal, Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler extended his point streak to six games. He moved to centre after Mark Scheifele was injured last month and has eight points over five games since switching positions.
The Jets will kick off a fourgame road trip on Tuesday against Buffalo.