Connor Hellebuyck was relieved to finally shut the door on an opponent this season.
The Winnipeg Jets goaltender got his first shutout of the season with a 21-save performance in a 5-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday and shared the credit with his high-flying teammates.
“It feels like I finally got the monkey off my back,” said Hellebuyck, who has a 15-2-3 record this season.
“This is more of a team shutout. When the guys are playing as good as they are in front of me, it makes my life a lot easier. When one guy is feeling it, you can see it go through the locker-room. That’s what we have in here now.”
Captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and three assists to boost Winnipeg’s NHL Western Conference-leading record to 17-6-4. Their 38 points also tied them for first overall in the league with idle Tampa Bay, which has a game in hand.
Wheeler’s linemates, centre Mark Scheifele and left-winger Mathieu Perreault, also had a goal each. The trio made up a new top line after Perreault moved from the fourth line and replaced Kyle Connor, who was scratched with a day-to-day undisclosed injury.
“What a luxury that is to have that kind of depth,” Wheeler said.
Perreault has played with the pair before and was happy to fill in, especially with the ensuing results.
“Maybe one of the most dominating performances I’ve been part of in this league, to be honest,” said Perreault.
“From the first minute, we took over the game. I think at one point the shots [were] 40-something to 15. We were in their end the whole game … They had a couple chances and [Hellebuyck] shut the door.”
Patrik Laine and Tyler Myers also supplied goals for the Jets, who boosted their winning streak at Bell MTS Place to six games (10-2-1). They’re also unbeaten in regulation in their last 10 games at home (9-0-1).
Perreault and Dustin Byfuglien each had a pair of assists. Scheifele added one helper, extending his point streak to four games with nine points off three goals and six assists.
Scheifele’s 34 points is tied for fifth in NHL scoring, one point back of Wheeler’s fourth-place point total of 35. The captain’s 28 assists lead the league.
Mike Condon started in net for the Senators (9-10-6), but let in five goals on 22 shots and was replaced by Craig Anderson early in the second period. Anderson made 27 saves the rest of…