ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Adam Lowry scored the tiebreaking goal with 9:13 to play and the Winnipeg Jets made progress in the playoff race with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
Kyle Connor scored his 28th goal and Connor Hellebuyck made 18 saves for the Jets, who opened a three-game California road trip with their third victory in four games.
After Frank Vatrano tied it for Anaheim early in the third with a power-play goal, Lowry put the Jets back ahead with a short redirection of a pass from Brenden Dillon for his third goal in four games.
“That’s our group,” said Connor, who snapped his 11-game goal drought in the second period. “We’re a resilient type, no matter what we face. We have confidence in here in each other that we’ll get out of it, and it’s going to make us stronger. Especially coming down to the playoffs, you know you’re not going to win every game, so you’ve got to deal with those situations when they happen.
“It’s no quit in here from everybody.”
Mason Appleton scored the first goal for Winnipeg, which has beaten Anaheim in five straight meetings, including a three-game sweep this season.
Winnipeg is in the second wild-card slot in the Western Conference with 85 points and nine games to play, one point behind Seattle. Nashville, which beat the Kraken in a shootout earlier Thursday, is five points behind the Jets, but the Predators have three games in hand.
“It’s no secret,” Lowry said. “We know where we’re at and how critical these games are. We can only control our play, but we’re going to try to carry this momentum into Saturday.”
Cam Fowler also scored and Lukas Dostal stopped 30 shots for the lottery-bound Ducks, who dropped to 1-4-1 on their eight-game homestand with their third consecutive defeat.
Fowler scored his career-best 43rd point with a goal in the first period on a knuckling shot that threaded a path among three Anaheim teammates.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said of Fowler. “I hope that he’s proud of himself to have a career year in a year like this. … He does a lot of things for us, and especially now he carries a lot of ice time. He’s a leader in our dressing room. He basically does it all, so we’re all real proud of Cam.”
Appleton evened it 45 seconds later and Connor then scored late in the second period on remarkably similar plays, knocking in loose pucks after rebounds trickled underneath Dostal.
Connor is Winnipeg’s leading scorer, but he hadn’t scored a goal in March, and he had gone scoreless in a season-high six consecutive games.
“It’s something to build on,” Connor said. “We have nine games left now, and we want to continue to move forward improving, and hit the playoffs with a running stride here.”
Vatrano tied it with a low shot from the blue line while Derek Grant screened Hellebuyck in a rare mistake by the Jets’ second-ranked penalty killers. The goal was Vatrano’s 18th of the season, matching his total in each of the past two seasons with Florida and the Rangers.
Jets: At Los Angeles on Saturday.
Ducks: Host St. Louis on Saturday.
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