WINNIPEG — Life without Mark Scheifele got off to a good start for the Winnipeg Jets.
Captain Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each scored a goal and added an assist as a rejigged top line helped propel the Jets to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday.
Wheeler was playing centre in place of Scheifele, who's out six to eight weeks with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Connor was on Wheeler's left wing and new addition Patrik Laine on the right. Laine collected a pair of assists.
"We did a good job," Wheeler said. "Unfortunately, (Scheifele) is not coming back any time soon so we've got to rely on the guys in the room.
"Everyone takes responsibility in that, everyone has got to step their game up a little bit. Do a little bit more, do a little bit better. So far, so good."
Shawn Matthias, a healthy scratch for 11 straight games, recorded his first goal of the season. Adam Lowry tipped in a power-play marker and also had an assist for the Jets (22-11-6), who are first in the NHL's Central Division and 14-3-1 at home.
Connor Hellebuyck made 42 saves, picking up his 20th win of the season.
"I think pucks were just hitting me and I was seeing it well," Hellebucyk said. "The guys were in the right spots. I like our effort tonight. I like how we were able to put four (goals) against them because they're not an easy team and it feels good."
Anders Lee scored both goals for the Islanders (20-14-4), giving him 24 on the season. Jaroslav Halak stopped 33 shots.
The Jets lost 5-2 to the Islanders last week on a road trip.
"You lose to a team, you want to come right back and show them that you didn't beat us, you got lucky," Hellebuyck said.
Islanders coach Doug Weight wasn't too surprised the Jets came out strong in their first game without Scheifele. Winnipeg defencemen Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom are also injured.
"Certainly, it's going to hurt them long term," Weight said of Scheifele's absence. "Whether they can keep playing like this, they're a good team. Everybody pulls on those ropes.
"You're missing Buff and Scheifele. Teams will usually play really well the first couple of games and band together. They're a true good team. They've proven it to this point."
The Jets led 2-0 after the first period and 2-1 after the second.
Matthias got onto the roster, and the fourth line, because of Scheifele's injury and scored on his first shift off a Lowry rebound at 2:32. The veteran forward only played in one of the previous 21 games and his last goal was March 8.
Laine, Connor and Wheeler put together the team's second goal — Wheeler's 10th of the season with 3:03 left in the first.
Lee tipped in a John Tavares one-timer to get his club on the board at 14:46 of the second. Tavares extended his point streak to nine games with four goals and 14 assists. Josh Bailey also assisted, moving his point streak to 10 games with six goals and 12 helpers.
"We're going to try not to be too frustrated, but obviously we would have loved to have capitalized on some of those opportunities in all three periods..." Tavares said.
"(Hellebuyck) played well. Some chances we'd like to have back, especially with the type of shooters and touch we have around the net on this team."
Connor scored his 12th of the season at 3:01 of the third off a pass from Laine, and Lowry tipped in Jacob Trouba's point shot with just under eight minutes remaining to make it 4-1. Lee scored his second goal just over four minutes later.
Winnipeg plays in Edmonton Sunday and the Islanders travel to Colorado for a game the same day.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press