Winnipeg Jets lose to Washington Capitals on day head coach Paul Maurice resigns

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  • Connor Hellebuyck
    Connor Hellebuyck

WINNIPEG — The Washington Capitals spoiled the debut for new Jets coach Dave Lowry on Friday night.

Centre Michael Sgarbossa and Alex Ovechkin salted the victory away with empty-net goals during the last 2:40 to give Washington a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.

Brett Leason, Daniel Sprong and Conor Sheary also scored for Washington (18-5-7). Goalie Vitek Vanecek made 40 saves on 42 shots for the victory.

Brenden Dillon and Josh Morrisey replied for Winnipeg (13-11-5). Netminder Connor Hellebuyck made 34 saves on 37 shots.

Lowry, Winnipeg's former assistant coach, was promoted to head coach when Paul Maurice suddenly announced his resignation on Friday morning.

The Caps took a 3-2 lead midway through the third when Sheary pounced on a rebound in the crease with Hellebuyck down and out. Defencemen Justin Schultz and Dennis Cholowski assisted.

The Jets tied the score on the power play early in the third period. Morrissey fired a shot past Vanecek on a pass from forward Nikolaj Ehlers. Defenceman Nate Schmidt also assisted.

The Jets had pulled to within 2-1 late in the second period. Dillion fired a screened shot from the point that beat Vanecek. It was the former Capitals player's first goal as a Jet. Ehlers assisted.

The Caps took a 2-0 lead at 8:43 of the second. Just after Vanecek robbed Jets centre Mark Scheifele on the doorstep, Sprong whipped a shot past Hellebuyck on a setup from centre Aliaksei Protas.

Washington opened the scoring just 3:11 into the second period. Leason, who was left alone in front of Hellebuyck, fired a one-timed a pass from forward Sgarbossa. Defenceman Matt Irwin also assisted.

There was no scoring in the first period but Hellebuyck made some brilliant saves as Washington outshot the Jets 14-8.

Lowry admitted that he was taken aback by Maurice’s sudden announcement.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” he told reporters before the game. “For myself, it came out of the blue. I first had a conversation (Thursday) night with (Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff), that was the first that I had any inkling that something was going on. And yes, it was a surprise.

“The one thing that eases the situation a little bit is that I have Paul’s blessing in this.”

The Jets will host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon, then embark on a two-game road trip.

The Caps will return to host the L.A. Kings on Sunday, the first of a two-game homestand.

NOTES: The Jets announced that, to comply with the latest Manitoba Health public-health order announced Friday, their games at Canada Life Centre will be limited to 50 per cent capacity between Dec. 21 and Jan. 11. Both Friday night’s and Sunday’s game versus the St. Louis Blues will proceed with full capacity. The Jets plan to contact current seat holders by Dec. 21 to explain how they plan to reduce capacity … The Jets have home games scheduled on Dec. 27 and 29, and Jan. 8 and 10.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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