It took nearly four periods of hockey, but the Winnipeg Jets finally solved Karel Vejmelka.
After the Arizona goalie turned aside all 46 shots he faced in a 1-0 win in Winnipeg in November, he was outstanding again but was unable to keep the slate clean a second time as his Coyotes dropped a 3-1 decision to the visiting Jets Tuesday night.
Evgeny Svechnikov was the one who finally cracked the code, finishing off a great feed from Josh Morrissey to make it 1-0 with 2:26 left in the first. It was the third goal of the season for Svechnikov, playing in his first game since Dec. 17 when he suffered an injury.
The Jets dominated the bulk of the second period, but it took a while for them to be rewarded.
Moments after a power play expired, Pierre-Luc Dubois drove to the net and banged home his own rebound to make it 2-0. It was Dubois’ 15th goal of the season.
The one-sided play continued in the third as the Jets poured all kinds of shots towards Vejmelka, who proved to be tough to beat again but was getting no help offensively from his team.
The Coyotes finally got on the board near the seven minute mark of the third. Logan Stanley attempted an ambitious cross-ice pass in his own end that was picked off by Shayne Gostisbehere, who walked in and beat Connor Hellebuyck to cut the lead in half.
This generated no momentum whatsoever for Arizona, who at one point in the third were being outshot 19-5, but they were given a chance to steal the game thanks to their goalie.
With just over two minutes to go, the Coyotes pulled Vejmelka for the extra attacker but as has been the case all season, could not give adequate run support to their goalie. Nikolaj Ehlers sealed the game with an empty netter with 44 seconds remaining.
Vejmelka finished the game with a whopping 45 saves but it was not enough. Hellebuyck stopped 26 shots for the victory, the third in a row for Winnipeg and second straight following the holiday break.
18 of Winnipeg’s 48 shots came on the power play, which went 0-for-4 but Dubois’ marker was set up by a man advantage. The improving Jets penalty kill took care of both Winnipeg penalties in the game.
The Jets are now off to Denver for a date with the Avalanche Thursday night to close out the road trip.
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