WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Kyle Connor hasn’t looked ahead all season and he’s not about to start doing it now.
The 21-year-old rookie scored twice Thursday night to reach 25 goals, and the Winnipeg Jets rebounded from a quick deficit for a 6-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
”Going into the season I didn’t really set any expectations numbers-wise,” said Connor, who has 44 points in 65 games. ”I just went into it with an open mind and try to work hard and improve every game.
”It feels pretty good. Right now I’m just in the moment.”
Bryan Little and Jack Roslovic each had a goal and an assist as all four Winnipeg lines produced goals. Joel Armia and Paul Stastny also scored.
Connor Hellebuyck turned away 25 shots in his 36th win, increasing his franchise record for goaltenders.
Patrick Laine extended his club-record point streak to 14 games with an assist on Stastny’s goal. The 19-year-old star has 16 goals and eight assists during that span – most of which came during the Jets’ recent road trip – helping the 2016 second overall draft pick earn NHL First Star honors for a second time this season.
Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago.
Saad opened the scoring just 11 seconds into the game. Following a much-longer-than-usual video review stemming from a coach’s challenge for a possible offside, the goal stood.
”Sometimes the first shot goes in – that’s not that big of a deal,” Hellebuyck said. ”I actually prefer it that way so I can shut them out the rest of the way.”
The Jets took over from there with three goals over the next 9:15, chasing Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg as he allowed three goals on six shots. J.F. Berube made 30 saves in 2 1/2 periods of relief.
”It’s tough, especially after the initial start of that game, (Saad) scoring that goal as quick as I’ve seen,” Sharp said. ”And then it was five unanswered pretty quickly, felt like everything was going in. Leave the puck in a bad area and it’s a scoring chance or a goal against. It’s a dangerous team over there and a tough first period.”
Winnipeg had been outscored 7-2 in losing its previous two games against Central Division rival Chicago this season.
”You score six, hey, it feels easy,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. ”I don’t think we had a lot in the tank. Our drivers worked hard.”
NOTES: Connor scored his second goal into an empty net. … Laine ranks second in the NHL with 40 goals and leads the league with 18 power-play goals.
Blackhawks: Complete a two-game road trip in Buffalo on Saturday.
Jets: Fresh off their longest road trip of the season (six games), the Jets continue their six-game homestand with a Central Division matchup against Dallas on Sunday.
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