Josh Morrissey scores late, Jets hold on to beat Wild after blowing lead

Morrissey, Jets hold on to beat Wild

WINNIPEG — Josh Morrissey is doing a lot of things right for a young defenceman this season.

The 21-year-old rookie chalked up another good outing when his one-timer with 7:17 left in the third period lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

It was Minnesota’s fifth straight loss and came after the club had roared back from a four-goal deficit.

“You just can’t say enough about Josh Morrissey,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler praised. “That goal aside, just the type of hockey player he is, how smart he is as a player. He’s being asked to play a little bit ahead of his age right now.”

Morrissey’s fifth goal of the season through a screen by teammate Patrik Laine hit the post and went past Devan Dubnyk for his third game-winning marker.

The last time the Wild lost five in a row was the final five regular-season games last spring. They only have two wins in their last 10 games.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was brief and to the point in his post-game analysis.

“Hey, listen, we stunk in the first,” he said. “We better come back in the second. Holy crap. It’s not resiliency. You make it sound like we’re good. That’s all. I’m done.”

Winnipeg had mounted a 4-0 lead at 4:38 of the second period after scoring on four of its first eight shots in the game, but the Wild fired in four straight goals to tie it up heading into the third period.

Morrissey said he and fellow blue liner Brian Strait, called up from the AHL Manitoba Moose Saturday, talked about him moving over a bit more to the middle to get a closer pass and easier one-timer.

“It was nice, our very next shift was the goal,” Morrissey said. “Not too many times when you talk about those things and it actually ends up working right away.”

Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry scored on Winnipeg’s first and third shots, respectively. Defencemen Ben Chiarot and Dustin Byfuglien also found the back of the net. Lowry collected one assist and Mathieu Perreault and Blake Wheeler each had a pair of helpers. Wheeler’s assists took him to 500 career points.

Chris Stewart scored twice and Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund also had goals for the Wild.

Connor Hellebuyck was pulled for the eighth time this season at the end of the second period after stopping 31-of-35 shots for the Jets (32-33-7). Michael Hutchinson made 13 saves in relief.

The 48 shots was the most given up this season by the Jets, who picked up only their second victory in their last six games (2-3-1).

Dubnyk stopped 16 shots for the Wild (43-22-6).

“I didn’t see the puck,” Dubnyk said of Morrissey’s winner. “Bodies in front and try to pick a side and, obviously, I try to find the puck as best you can. Just heard the post.”

The Wild outshot the Jets 21-5 in the middle frame.

Third-period action included Chiarot blocking a shot that could have given Stewart a hat trick and Byfuglien taking a penalty with just over two minutes left that the Jets managed to kill off.

Wild centre Eric Staal, playing in his 1,000th NHL career game, was kept off the score sheet.

“Tough under the circumstances the way we’re playing here the last little bit, but in the overall grand scheme it’s a special moment for sure,” Staal said of the milestone.

Staal is the 311th player in league history to reach 1,000 games, and the fifth for the Wild franchise. A 2003 draft pick of Carolina, Staal has only missed 22 games in his career.

Winnipeg hosts Philadelphia on Tuesday. Minnesota has a three-game homestand, starting Tuesday against San Jose.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

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