Wheeler lifts Jets to 6-4 win over Wild

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm •  Published: December 27, 2013
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Blake Wheeler's confidence is growing for the Winnipeg Jets.

Wheeler scored two goals and the Jets beat the Minnesota Wild 6-4 on Friday in a game that featured a seven-goal first period.

Wheeler ended a scramble in front of the Minnesota net when he poked the puck under Niklas Backstrom with 9:20 remaining in the third period for his 14th goal of the season, giving the Jets a 5-4 lead.

It was the ninth goal in December for Wheeler, a Minnesota native and a former University of Minnesota star.

Wheeler started the season with just five goals in his first 28 games.

"I think confidence plays into it," he said of his recent success. "When the puck starts going in the net you find yourself getting into the scoring areas a little bit more. The puck seems to bounce your way a little bit more."

Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom added goals for Winnipeg.

Dany Heatley, Justin Fontaine, Stephane Veilleux and Mikko Koivu scored for Minnesota.

The Jets, who were coming off a loss in Edmonton on Monday, managed to beat the Wild after losing each of the first three meetings between the teams.

It was a fourth straight loss for the Wild, who have dropped six of their past eight games.

The Jets led 4-3 after a first period that had five goals scored in the first 7:04.

"We don't have the luxury of finding reasons for things not being OK," said Wild coach Mike Yeo, who said the first period was clearly a byproduct of the extended break. "We're in a position where we have to make things right."

Minnesota struck first when Heatley scored on a wide-open net after a pass from Jason Pominville at 2:13.

But the Jets grabbed the lead by the six-minute mark on a short-handed goal by Kane and a one-timer in the low slot by Jokinen.

"When they scored we responded, which was good to see," Kane said.

It only took another 67 seconds for the Wild to go ahead 3-2, on goals by Fontaine and Veilleux. That ended Ondrej Pavelec's outing.

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