ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Although Paul Maurice declines the credit, the Winnipeg Jets still haven’t lost since he stepped behind their bench. They’re even good enough to beat a team that had been practically perfect on home ice all season long.
Ondrej Pavelec made 40 saves, Evander Kane had a short-handed goal and an assist in his return from injury, and the Jets ended the Anaheim Ducks’ 10-game home winning streak with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.
Blake Wheeler and captain Andrew Ladd also scored for the last-place Jets, who handed the overall NHL leaders their first regulation loss at home this season after a 20-0-2 start at Honda Center.
Bryan Little had two assists as Winnipeg hung on for its fourth consecutive win since Maurice replaced Claude Noel, culminating in this gritty win in the league’s most daunting road arena.
“It’s a tough building to play in, and it feels good to be the first team to beat them (here) this season,” Pavelec said. “It’s only two points, but it feels really good, especially in this building. … The whole team is playing with confidence. The new coach let us know we’re good players, and we can beat anybody.”
With a fourth win for Maurice, Winnipeg even relinquished sole possession of last place in the Central Division, pulling even with Nashville at the bottom of the table. Yet when asked what he’s done to this underachieving group, the veteran coach is frank: “Nothing.”
“Before I got here, I thought this was a good hockey team,” Maurice added. “Now we’re feeling good, and that changes everything.”
Cam Fowler and Nick Bonino scored for the NHL-leading Ducks, who hadn’t lost at home since Dec. 3. Anaheim has won 19 of 22 overall, but has lost two of its last three games despite putting 42 shots on net and having 36 more potential shots blocked by the Jets.
Anaheim was just the fourth NHL team in 40 years to earn a point in its first 22 home games to start a season. The Ducks were the only NHL team that hadn’t lost in regulation at home this season, but they began the week leading up to Saturday’s game at Dodger Stadium by overlooking the Jets for two mediocre periods.
“There’s a lot of distractions going on this week with this outdoor game,” Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “Everybody wants to talk about it, and everyone’s been talking about it for two weeks, so it’s hard to focus in on what you need to do and getting the two points on hand. But that’s no excuse.”
Anaheim faces the Los Angeles Kings at home on Thursday and again in Chavez Ravine on the weekend.
Jonas Hiller yielded three goals on 11 shots and was pulled late in the second period of his second straight loss after a 14-game winning streak. The Swiss Olympic goalie candidly acknowledged a lack of focus.
“I just didn’t feel like I was really in the game and I wasn’t able to cut out all the distractions, like the outdoor game,” Hiller said. “Those things happen, but it’s too bad in this situation. We wanted to keep that streak going. Some days you feel better and other days you don’t. You can’t be perfect every night. The problem with a goalie is, you see right away if you don’t feel good, and you can’t really hide.”
Frederik Andersen stopped 10 shots in relief during the Ducks’ return from a road trip that began with a loss in Chicago, snapping their eight-game winning streak.
Fowler scored a goal in his second straight game just 3:59 in, ripping a slap shot off Zach Bogosian’s stick on a power play. But Wheeler evened it moments later, putting a stoppable shot past Hiller’s glove for his 18th goal, and Ladd scored late in the period by pouncing on a loose puck.
Anaheim struggled on two power plays in the second period, and Hiller got yanked when he fanned on a quick shot by Kane, who had been out since Jan. 7 after hurting his hand in a fight.
After Andersen relieved Hiller, the Ducks pressed in the third period and finally scored when Bonino followed Jakob Silfverberg’s rebound in the slot and scored his 16th goal.
“You hate to lose,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You want this thing to go on forever.”
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