Pominville, Niederreiter score 2 each, lift Wild over Jets
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau wanted to experiment with a new line combination. You could say it was a big success for the veteran coach.
The line of center Charlie Coyle and wings Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter accounted for all of the Wild’s goals in a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night. Pominville and Niederreiter scored twice, Pominville added a pair of assists and Coyle had a career-high three assists. Niederreiter’s second goal was an empty-netter.
”Nothing in this team surprises me right now,” Boudreau said. ”I mean, it seems like there’s a different hero every night. Charlie’s a good player and he doesn’t get a lot of notice. Maybe it’s because we’re in Minnesota or whatever the reason, but he’s a good player and tonight he came to play and so did Niederreiter. Pominville got four points. I mean, those guys held us down.
”Other nights, it’s either the (Eric) Staal line or the (Mikko) Koivu line. Tonight it was that line.”
Devan Dubnyk made 38 saves for the Western Conference-leading Wild, and Minnesota finished its road trip 3-1-0.
Joel Armia had a goal and assist and Bryan Little netted his 15th goal of the season for Winnipeg. Goalie Ondrej Pavelec went to the dressing room just over six minutes into the second period after stopping 11 of 14 shots. The Jets announced he wasn’t returning because of a lower-body injury.
Connor Hellebuyck made 10 saves in relief for the Jets, who were starting a four-game homestand.
Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said he didn’t think Pavelec’s injury was serious, but he would be checked out. Maurice took the loss with an asterisk beside it.
”Winning is everything in pro sports, but you have to have an assessment of your game that’s honest,” Maurice said.
”Over our last five (games), that’s as well as we’ve played in a while against some pretty good teams. We played the best team in our conference and I think we were better. I think we were better than they were over the course of the game.”
Winnipeg had won three in a row but now has two straight losses. It was its first loss at home against a Central Division opponent this season (6-1-0).
Minnesota forward Mikael Granlund’s franchise-record 12-game point streak ended. He had five goals and 12 assists during the span, which had been the NHL’s longest current point streak.
Granlund had a penalty shot early in the third but tripped over Hellebuyck while trying to go to the backhand. He was awarded the shot after defenseman Dustin Byfuglien pushed a loose stick on the ice toward him when he had the puck in Winnipeg’s end.
”That was something new I learned today,” Byfuglien said of causing the penalty shot. ”I had no clue (about the rule).”
The Wild led 2-0 after the first period and 3-2 following the second.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, the Jets announced veteran D Tyler Myers, who’s missed 44 games this season, including the past 39 with lower-body injuries, had surgery for a different lower-body injury Monday and is out an additional six to eight weeks.
Wild: Host Chicago to begin an eight-game homestand that runs through Jan. 27.
Jets: Host Chicago on Friday night.