CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets held on to beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Friday night in the first of three straight games between the teams.
Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor also had a goal and an assist for Winnipeg. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots to win in his league-leading 27th start of the season.
Winnipeg has allowed just three goals over three consecutive victories. The Jets scored two power-play goals for the fourth time in their last eight games.
“Our game’s been right on here for a bit now,” Wheeler said. “You have confidence in that it can give you a chance to win every single night now. There’s going to be nights when it doesn’t go your way. That’s where you build confidence, that even though it doesn’t go your way, the next night you can rely on a brand of hockey that can give you some success.”
Milan Lucic and Matthew Tkachuk scored in a fourth straight loss for the Flames. Jacob Markstrom finished with 26 saves.
The Flames have totaled four goals in their last four games. Calgary is 4-5-0 since Darryl Sutter took over as head coach March 8.
“We had some real dopey players in the first period,” Sutter said. “It cost us the hockey game. We had some dopey players who didn’t wake up until we were down a goal, which is unfortunate.”
Calgary ranked sixth in the North Division and was four points back of the Montreal Canadiens holding down the fourth and final playoff spot.
“Lose another one-goal game and it sucks,” Lucic said. “Running out of time, running out of games, got to start getting in the win column if we have any type of chance.”
The teams will meet again in Calgary on Saturday and Monday nights. Winnipeg leads the season series 4-1-1.
With Markstrom pulled for an extra attacker, Tkachuk tipped in a shot by Elias Lindholm to pull the Flames within a goal with 1:59 remaining in regulation.
Markstrom remained out of his net and with Statsny serving a tripping penalty on Tkachuk, the Flames couldn’t get the equalizer 6-on-4 over the final seconds.
“That was a long minute fifty two I was in the box or something like that,” Stastny said. “A game like that, special teams is the difference and it showed at the end.”
The Jets led 2-0 after two periods before Mikael Backlund’s sharp-angled shot deflected off both Lucic and Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey for Calgary’s first goal at 6:52 of the third.
Stastny scored Winnipeg’s second power-play goal of the game from the slot on a feed from Wheeler at 14:54 to push the lead to 3-1. The Jets have scored two power-play goals in a game four times in their past eight.
While Calgary attempted to kill off a double minor to Lucic midway through the third period, Markstrom’s clearing attempt over the glass gave the Jets a two-man advantage.
Stastny’s redirect of Connor’s shot deflected off Wheeler’s skate and by Markstrom for a power-play goal at 9:13 of the first.
A streaking Connor lifted his own rebound over the right pad of Markstrom at 5:33 of the second for his team-leading 17th goal of the season and a 2-0 lead.
Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin put a shot off the crossbar with 4:51 left in the second period.