Kyle Connor scores twice as Jets use big third period to beat Golden Knights
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WINNIPEG — Captain Blake Wheeler predicted the best is yet to come for the Winnipeg Jets, but he wasn't sizing up championship rings.
With a 7-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights Friday, the Jets moved into first place in the NHL's Western Conference with 36 points (16-6-4).
"Nothing, it's the first of December," Wheeler said when asked what the conference lead meant.
But he was happy with the direction the team is headed.
"I don't think we've peaked," said Wheeler, who had three assists. "We have a ways to go. We're learning how to play fast, kind of on the fly. I think we can play faster. With the way the league's going, that's an exciting thing.
"There's no back-slapping. I think we're enjoying winning, which is new to our group, but we're not fitting ourselves for rings, yet."
Kyle Connor scored a pair of goals while Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine each had a goal and two assists as the Jets scored five goals in the third period.
Tyler Myers, Matt Hendricks and Nikolaj Ehlers rounded out the attack for Winnipeg, which won its fifth straight at home.
Winnipeg-born forward Cody Eakin, William Karlsson, Erik Haula and Colin Miller scored for the Golden Knights (15-9-1).
Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves for the Jets, who are now 8-0-1 in their last nine games at home.
Maxime Lagace stopped 31-of-37 shots for the Golden Knights, who lost a third straight game for only the second time this season.
Miller had a power-play goal wiped out midway through the second after Jets coach Paul Maurice was successful in challenging offside by Vegas forward Alex Tuch.
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant said it was the correct call, but disappointing.
"We would have loved to have that 3-1 lead, obviously, but you've got to keep playing, you've got to keep battling back," Gallant said.
The teams were tied 2-2 heading into the third when power-play goals by Connor at 33 seconds and Laine two minutes 15 seconds later started the offensive attack.
Gallant said those were killers.
"The big one was that early third-period goal to make them go up 3-2 and then we took a penalty right after that and they scored again, so that was the turning point in the game for me," Gallant said.
Winnipeg was 3-for-5 on the power play and Vegas was scoreless on five attempts.
"We just need to stay out of the box a little more, that was it," Vegas forward James Neal said. "Power plays can win you the game. They thrive on theirs."
Laine, who snapped a three-game pointless skid, had said at the morning skate his confidence was down.
"I'm only doing that because I know I wasn't playing really well," Laine said of his self-assessment. "I'm not lying to you guys when you're asking about it. That was a good game so I'm happy."
Both teams play on Sunday with Winnipeg hosting Ottawa and the Knights going home to meet Arizona.