Jets blast Sharks for key win

Winnipeg, MB ( - Blake Wheeler had two goals and an assist to help the Winnipeg Jets roll to a 5-2 triumph over the San Jose Sharks and improve their playoff positioning in the Western Conference.

The Jets moved into the West's top eight behind a first-period barrage in which Adam Lowry, Mark Scheifele and Andrew Ladd all scored on Sharks netminder Antti Niemi, pulled after just 13 minutes and eight shots seen.

Scheifele added two assists and Drew Stafford also had a pair of helpers in the rout, with Ondrej Pavelec doing his part as well by coming up with 38 saves.

The Sharks, meanwhile, began a critical seven-game road trip with a second straight lopsided loss, having dropped a 6-2 decision at home to Chicago on Saturday.

Joe Pavelski was the lone bright spot for San Jose, recording his 33rd and 34th goals of the season. Alex Stalock stopped 12-of-14 shots in relief of Niemi.

"It was a big game for us, but there's plenty of hockey left," said Stalock.

Niemi's rough night began when Lowry stole the puck from Sharks defenseman Brent Burns in the San Jose zone and sent a bad-angle shot that got through the startled netminder just 1:10 in. It got worse when a pair of Sharks penalties were converted into two more Winnipeg goals by the game's 14th minute.

Scheifele made it 2-0 midway through the first period by ripping a pinpoint pass from Toby Enstrom into the top corner on a 5-on-4. Less than four minutes later, Ladd successfully redirected in Jacob Trouba's initial attempt while going to the net to extend the lead further.

The Sharks did pick up their intensity in the second, peppering Pavelec with 17 shots and getting on the board when Pavelski knocked in a rebound of Joe Thornton's drive with just 1;06 elapsed in the stanza.

San Jose's momentum was short-lived, however, as Wheeler stuffed Stafford's behind-the-net give through Stalock's pads for a 4-2 Jets' advantage at the 7:05 mark.

Wheeler struck again near the halfway stage of the third on a tip-in of Stafford's centering feed, one of only four Winnipeg shots for the period.

"Give credit to Wheels for staying in front," said Stafford.

Pavelec, on the other hand, made several sharp saves to keep it a 5-1 game until Pavelski scored on a redirection from Burns with just 2:25 left.

Game Notes

The loss was San Jose's first in regulation on the road against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise, having gone 6-0-2 with a tie in nine previous meetings as the visitor ... Wheeler now has five goals and four assists over his last five games ... Defenseman Tyler Myers returned to Winnipeg's lineup after missing Saturday's game at Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury, but fellow blueliner Dustin Byfuglien sat out a fifth straight contest ... Pavelski had just one goal over his previous 12 games.