WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Paul Stastny scored twice and the short-handed Winnipeg Jets held off the Nashville Predators 6-4 on Saturday night.
Rookie forward Kristian Vesalainen got his first NHL goal for Winnipeg. Kyle Connor, Pierre Luc-Dubois and Adam Lowry also scored for the Jets, who played without No. 1 center Mark Scheifele and captain Blake Wheeler for the second consecutive game. Both are in COVID-19 protocol.
Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves in the win.
“More than anything, it’s been timely goals,” Stastny said. “I think last game it was (Pierre-Luc Dubois’) goal when we started (to score more), and today it was (Adam Lowry’s) goal after we started slow.”
Lowry scored early in the first period to tie the score 1-1.
“Every time they got a goal or came close, we came right back and pounced on them and didn’t sit back,” Stastny said. “That’s the biggest. That first game in Anaheim, we probably deserved better and we had more chances. We probably deserved more than one goal. Now, we’re scoring.
“But you can’t expect to get five or six goals a night, so I think we have to tighten up a little bit, 5-on-5 and even PK (penalty kill). But I thought both their goals on the PK were weird bounces. I’d rather give those up than ones where you’re just getting picked apart. I think we’re building on it and we just gotta keep getting better.”
Colton Sissons, Nick Cousins, Philip Tomasino and defenseman Roman Josi scored for Nashville, which slipped to 1-4-0.
“I like the fact that we were able to score four,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “If you score four, you should be able to win the game. But we had some breakdowns that went in the back of the net. We had three tip-goals where a couple of guys are standing alone right in front of the net front, which shouldn’t happen. So, I think we have to tighten some areas on that, but I think from the offensive perspective, it’s good to be able to get four.
“I think there’s just some things structurally, when we’re in those (5-on-5) areas we can’t have the type of breakdowns that we’ve had, particularly with the type of goaltending that we get. We can’t give them gifts like that.”
Just 26 seconds after Josi pulled the Predators to 4-3 at 3:10 of the third period, Stastny scored his second of the game when he deflected Neal Pionk's point shot past goalie Juuse Saros, who stopped 23 shots.
Connor increased the lead to 6-3 on a power play. Tomasino scored with the man advantage with 6:19 left. Cousins and Trevor Novak assisted.
With Saros pulled, the Predators stormed the Winnipeg net, but they couldn't get any closer.
Winnipeg improved to 2-2-1 with its second straight win. The Predators fell to 1-4-0.
It was the Predators’ only visit to Winnipeg this season.
Vesalainen scored with 10 seconds left in the second period to give the Jets a 4-2 lead. He deflected Nate Schmidt's point shot past Saros. Dubois also assisted.
Nashville pulled to 3-2 on a second-period power play. Cousins backhanded a shot past Hellebuyck on a scramble in front. Novak and Tomasino assisted.
Winnipeg took a 3-1 lead with two goals 1:23 apart early in the second. First, Dubois deflected a point shot by Schmidt past Saros at 1:11. Then, Stastny pounced on Connor's rebound and fired it into the net for a power-play goal.
Earlier, Lowry knotted the score at 1 when he was sent in alone by defenseman Dylan DeMelo. Lowry slid a backhand underneath Saros at 2:42 of the first period.
The Predators struck first 75 seconds in. Sissons, unchecked on the open side of the Jets net, converted a pass from forward Tanner Jeannot, and Hellebuyck had no chance.
“I’ve liked our last three games an awful lot,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “I think the important things that we’ve done well in our last three is that we’re shooting the puck better with a mindset of being a team that shoots the puck and, because of that, you’re going to get to net front more often. We can get some high tips and some low tips net front and we’ve got players here who can score goals.
“If we play like shooters, we can score goals.”
Predators: At the Minnesota Wild on Sunday in the Predators' first back-to-back of the season.
Jets: At the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday to start a three-game trip. It will be the third meeting between the teams in a six-game span for Winnipeg.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports