Wheeler leads Winnipeg past the Wild
Winnipeg, MB (SportsNetwork.com) - Blake Wheeler lit the lamp twice as the Winnipeg Jets won a back-and-forth contest against the Minnesota Wild, 6-4, at MTS Centre.
Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Dustin Byfuglien, and Tobias Enstrom all scored and Jacob Trouba contributed two assists for the Jets, who snapped a two-game skid.
Starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots, but Al Montoya turned aside 22-of-23 shots to help provide stability in net for Winnipeg.
"We made a goalie change that didn't really have much to do with Pavelec," Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel said. "It was clearly a message to me not to Ondrej, but to our team."
Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine, Dany Heatley, and Stephane Veilleux provided the scoring for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom allowed five goals on 37 shots as the Wild extended their losing streak to four games.
"Backstrom gave us a chance to win that game," Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo said. "I'm not going to say that he didn't play well."
Heatley quickly opened the scoring 2:13 into the game, but Kane evened the score 1:35 later with a shorthanded tally on a two-on-one. Jokinen added to the lead on a tip-in at 5:57.
Fontaine raced through the slot to wrist a rebound past Pavelec to tie the game 57 seconds later. Veilleux slapped the puck over the shoulder of Pavelec, giving Minnesota the lead and chasing the Winnipeg netminder 7:04 into the first.
Winnipeg tied the game again at 14:50. Bryan Little won the face-off back to Trouba, who fired a shot from the blue line. Wheeler was in front of the net to deflect the puck past Backstrom.
Byfuglien netted a wrister to give Winnipeg a 4-3 lead with 2:50 left in the first to cap off an opening frame that saw seven total goals.
Koivu tied it up on the power-play to even the game 3:40 into the second for the middle stanza's lone goal.
Wheeler broke the tie after hard work chipping away in a scrum in front of the net for his second of the night 10:40 into the third. Enstrom sent the puck down the ice from his own zone to ensure the victory with four seconds remaining.
Zach Parise missed his second straight game with a bruised foot ... The Wild activated goaltender Josh Harding from injured reserve, recalled Veilleux from the Iowa Wild of the AHL, and placed defenseman Clayton Stoner on injured reserve prior to the game ... Winnipeg lost their previous three games against Minnesota.
12/27 23:53:17 ET