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Kyle Connor scored his 47th goal of the season at 9:05 of the third period to rally the Winnipeg Jets to a season-ending 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken on Sunday.
Morgan Barron, Blake Wheeler and Dominic Toninato also scored for Winnipeg (39-32-11), which missed the playoffs but finished the season with a perfect four-game homestand. Eric Comrie made 27 saves.
“We can no longer call ourselves contenders,” Wheeler said. “I think we are one of those teams that is a fringe playoff team now.
“It’s up to everyone involved to look in the mirror and say, ‘Why? Why did we get to where we’re at?’ Like I said, first and foremost, it’s our responsibility as players to bring that type, that quality of play to the ice that we have a chance to contend and compete for a championship.”
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Alex Wennberg had a goal and an assist for Seattle (27-49-6), and Daniel Sprong and Riley Sheahan also scored. Chris Driedger stopped 23 shots.
“There’s a lot of pieces to our game that we’ve really liked over the stretch here coming down the last two months,” Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Those are the pieces we will take. We will start to dig in, re-evaluate things, and that process starts (Monday).”
The game was rescheduled following a storm in Winnipeg last month. It was the only one on the schedule and came two days after the rest of the league wrapped up the regular season.
The Jets had to deal with a number of challenges this season aside from weather and players missing games because of COVID-19 or injuries. The biggest was a coaching change as Dave Lowry was named interim head coach on Dec. 17 after Paul Maurice resigned. The 56-year-old Lowry went 26-22-6 in his first stint as an NHL head coach.
“It’s definitely a year I’ll try to forget a little bit,” said Jets center Mark Scheifele, who missed the final nine games with an upper-body injury but finished with 29 goals and 70 points in 67 games. “It was a tough one from a lot of things – COVID, injuries, coach leaving, a new coach coming in, all that stuff.”
Lowry said the team lacked consistency and changes are necessary.
“If I stay here and I stood up here today and said that we’re not going to make any changes, well, what we were doing didn’t work,” Lowry said. “We’re going to have to make some adjustments. Do we need to completely overhaul everything? I don’t think so. But yeah, you’re going to have to make some changes.”
Winnipeg led 1-0 after the first but Seattle went ahead 3-1 entering the third.
Wenneberg began the Kraken’s scoring with his 11th of the season 22 seconds into a power play at 5:55 of the second.
Sprong made it 2-1 at 12:24 with a shot that beat Comrie to the glove side. Sheahan’s goal followed 55 seconds later for a two-goal lead.
Winnipeg then broke through with three goals early in the third.
Jets center Paul Stastny recorded his 800th career point when he won a faceoff and got the puck back to Wheeler, who sent a one-timer past Driedger at 4:49. It marked the fourth straight game that Wheeler had scored.
Toninato tied it 3-3 at 7:16, with Barron earning an assist.
Connor then got the go-ahead goal less than two minutes later.
Barron scored his second goal of the season 3:47 into the game to give the Jets the 1-0 lead.