‘We’re a family’: Jets dedicate win to coach, wife

NHL

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Connor Hellebuyck stopped 18 of 20 shots to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night on an emotional night for the home team.

It was the Jets’ first game without coach Rick Bowness, who took a leave of absence after his wife, Judy, suffered a seizure on Sunday. She has since been sent home and is resting.

Interim Jets coach Scott Arniel was asked if the team dedicated the game to the Bowness family.

“They talked about making sure they got out and not let him down,” Arniel said. “They wanted to do it for all of the right reasons. Like we said, we’re a family here and we care about each other, and they care about Rick and Judy.

“They wanted to put their best foot forward and I thought they did a great job of it. I said this morning, big divisional opponent and our first opponent of the year and it’s a big one.”

Forward Mason Appleton concurred.

“This game certainly is dedicated to them,” he said. “(Bowness) knows that we are all here for him and we are all here for Judy as well. We are happy that she is doing better. Obviously, there is a bit of recovery ahead, but Bones knows that we are going to do our job here. We are going to play as hard as we can for him and her.

“We are going to keep this thing going and whenever the time is right for Bones to come back and Judy is 100% healthy, then that day will come. But, right now, we are just praying for him, thinking about him. We still have a job to do. It’s tough. It’s how the world works sometimes, but you can call this win for her, for sure.”

Kyle Connor, Appleton and David Gustafsson scored for the Jets, before Morgan Barron added an empty-netter with 1:10 left.

Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich scored for St. Louis. Netminder Jordan Binnington made 26 saves on 29 shots for St. Louis.

“(Hellebuyck) made some good saves, some really good saves,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “We missed some wide-open nets, didn’t get them in there. To me, he made big saves, but we didn’t make it hard enough on him.”

Thomas pulled St. Louis to within one goal with Binnington pulled for an extra attacker with 3:33 left in the game.

“As a whole, I thought we did a lot of real good things,” Arniel said. “We talked this morning about how good St. Louis is on the rush and we saw that, especially the top line.”

The Jets opened the scoring with a pair of goals just 18 seconds apart early in the second period. Gustafsson unleashed a one-timer past Binnington on a set from forward Cole Perfetti from behind the net. Appleton hit just 18 seconds later.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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