02-18-2019, 02:32 AM
WINNIPEG Adidas Matt Bartkowski Jersey , Manitoba — If there was a trophy for most assists in a season, Blake Wheeler would be one of the early favorites to hoist it at the end of the season. The Winnipeg Jets captain had a five-point night in a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday at Bell MTS Place, setting up the first four goals and scoring the last into an empty net.That performance gave Wheeler 18 assists in 15 games, the second-highest assist total in the league behind Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, who had 19. Wheeler led the NHL in assists last season with 68 and has more than any other player since the start of the 2015-16 season.Article continues below ...Wheeler hopes to continue his leading ways when the Jets host the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night. The Devils come to town on the heels of a 6-1 shellacking from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and have lost five of their last six, being outscored 29-15 in the process. Winnipeg is the last stop on a season-high seven-game road trip.At the same time as Wheeler is catching fire, sniper Patrik Laine appears to have regained his scoring touch for the Jets. He notched his fifth goal in three games on Friday to take the team lead with eight. He has just three goals in his first 12 games.Defenseman Josh Morrissey, who had one assist against Colorado Adidas J.T. Brown Jersey , had an idea Wheeler was ready for a big night after sharing a ride to the rink with him. “You could tell he was ready to go. He’s a big guy that has so much skill and competes so hard,” he said. “Blake took it to another level. He’s a guy that drives our bus every single day in practice, in the gym and basically in every aspect of being a professional hockey player. He’s the guy that we follow.”The Devils will need better goaltending if they want to compete with the Jets. Goalie Keith Kincaid stopped a number of excellent scoring opportunities by the Leafs but gave up one floater to Morgan Rielly while being screened by three of his teammates.In the previous game, a 7-3 loss against the Ottawa Senators, veteran Corey Schneider was pulled after giving up four goals on 22 shots.“We’ll be fine in the end,” Kincaid said. “This will just make us stronger. We have to build as a team. It’s not going to be easy. Everybody has to be together and work hard.”Coach John Hynes was particularly frustrated with his team’s breakout against the Leafs.“We have to play better. On four out of the six goals, we had the puck on our tape coming out of the zone, so our puck execution needs to be better. We’ll have to do that better against Winnipeg Adidas Adam Pelech Jersey ,” he said.The Rocket Richard Trophy, named in honor of the Montreal Canadiens legend who led the league in goal scoring five times in the 1940s and 1950s, has been awarded since 1999 to the league’s top goal scorer.The player with the most total points is given the Art Ross Trophy, named in honor of a former player and executive. A trophy to the top playmaker could be named after Wayne Gretzky, who retired in 1999 with 1,963 assists. He has more assists than any other player has total points. CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Christopher Gibson refused to take all the credit after leading the New York Islanders to a much-needed win.The rookie goalie made 50 saves as the Islanders beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 to snap an eight-game losing streak.”Personally it’s great, but hockey is a team game Adidas Thomas Hickey Jersey ,” said Gibson, who improved his record this season to 1-0-2. ”It’s a great feeling. I’m happy that the team won today. I think it was a full team effort. I let out some bad rebounds and guys were there to clear them out.”It was the second NHL win for Gibson, who went 1-1-1 for the Islanders in the 2015-16 season.”Ever since he’s been in the organization he’s been a great goaltender and tough to score on,” said forward Anders Lee, who had two goals. ”We always know the potential that these (young) guys have, but when you come into the game and play as calm as he has been, it’s been a wonderful surprise.”Johnny Boychuk had a goal and two assists for the Islanders, who were 0-4-4 since winning at Carolina on Feb. 16. Nick Leddy and Jordan Eberle also scored Adidas Tom Kuhnhackl Jersey , and Casey Cizikas and John Tavares had two assists each.New York pulled seven points behind Columbus for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.”To get a win, especially when we’ve been playing one-goal games and going into overtime and losing in a shootout or losing in overtime . something’s got to give, especially if you keep doing the right things,” Boychuk said. ”We know we’re in a corner and we have to win as many games as we can.”Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who kicked off a three-game homestand after going 2-0-1 on the road last week. Mark Giordano also scored.”It’s frustrating,” Giordano said. ”I think the problem is we’re getting down a lot at home where we’re forced to press a lot because you’re down by a few goals. That was the case again tonight.”Mike Smith made 22 saves in his return after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury.”I thought early on there I was a little sloppy, but I felt like I settled in pretty well as the game went on and got more comfortable,” Smith said. ”Tonight I think mentally we weren’t engaged enough at the start of the game and it cost us.”Leddy opened the scoring at 2:14 of the first period when he fired a point shot that deflected off the post and in behind Smith.Just 18 seconds later Adidas Matt Martin Jersey , another point shot by Boychuk deflected off Calgary forward Troy Brouwer’s stick and past Smith to make it 2-0.Gaudreau scored at 7:23 to pull the Flames within one when he took a pass from Sean Monahan before snapping a shot to the short side past Gibson.The Islanders regained their two-goal advantage 3:02 later as Eberle tipped Boychuk’s shot on net before picking up his own rebound and backhanding the puck past Smith.Boychuk continued his strong performance early in the second period when he fired another slap shot on net that Smith stopped, but the rebound went right to Lee, who swatted it into the net to put New York up 4-1.Giordano poked a loose puck in the crease into the net behind Gibson at 7:24 of the third to pull the Flames within two.The Flames continued to put on the pressure, but weren’t able to get any more pucks past Gibson, who stopped point-blank chances by Sam Bennett and Gaudreau.Lee then added an empty-net goal with 10.1 seconds remaining.NOTES: Smith sustained his injury late in Calgary’s 3-2 win over the Islanders in New York on Feb. 11. … The Flames compiled a 5-6-2 record with Smith out of the lineup. … In addition to activating Smith off injured reserve, the Flames also assigned G Jon Gillies back to Stockton of the AHL on Sunday. … Gaudreau snapped a seven-game goal-scoring drought, while extending his point-scoring streak to four games. … Gibson became the third Islanders goalie this season to have at least 50 saves. Jaroslav Halak made 50 in a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers on Feb. 15 and Thomas Greiss had 52 in a 5-4 overtime win at Montreal on Jan. 15.UP NEXTIslanders: Host Washington on Thursday night.Flames: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.