It’s a high five for Winnipeg’s Laine
Jets sniper continues his torrid November pace with a scorching performance against the Blues
ST. LOUIS — If there were any concerns about the Winnipeg Jets spinning into a tailspin to end the road trip after a third-period collapse the day before, Patrik Laine put those to rest and made sure the losing skid stopped at two.
Laine continued to shine in what can be described as a theatre-of-the-absurd road trip, producing the first fivegoal game of his young career to spark the Jets to an 8-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at Scottrade Center.
“What do you want to talk about?” Jets centre Bryan Little asked rhetorically as reporters approached him for comment.
Laine’s eruption was the topic of choice and for good reason, since he became the first NHL player to score five goals in a game since Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings did it on Feb. 2, 2011 against the Ottawa Senators.
All Laine did on this night was cap a stretch in which he delivered 11 goals on a fourgame road trip — that’s more markers than a good chunk of players will score this season.
Neither during the game nor after did Laine know the historical significance of the marks he was chasing.
Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs was the last NHL player to score six times, back in 1976, and Joe Malone of the Quebec Bulldogs is the only player in NHL history to score seven goals in a game back in 1920.
“No, I was just trying to score one before the game. I wasn’t thinking about NHL records,” said Laine, who moved into sole possession of the NHL goal-scoring lead with his 19th.
“Obviously, I want to score more. You can always score more. Tonight, it was five. There’s always next game.”
Entering the road trip, one of the narratives surrounded the fact Laine had yet to score a five-on-five goal through the first 18 games of the season.
Well, much of that concern has been alleviated after Laine scored seven times at five-onfive during the past four games — adding two on the power play and another into an empty net for good measure and giving him 11 goals on the road trip.
“If somebody thinks it’s going to come easily, it doesn’t,” said Laine. “Every goal you’re going to score in this league is hard. It’s the best league in the world. Obviously, scoring five is pretty unreal. But for those who think it’s easy, it’s not.”
Laine is up to 97 goals in his young career and he’s up to seven hat tricks (including three this season — three during the past 10 games, to be precise), leaving him behind only Wayne Gretzky when it comes to hat tricks before the age of 21.
For those of you scoring at home, Gretzky had 12.
“I was joking that he’s pretty close to having more hat tricks (this season) than I have goals right now. He could spread the wealth a bit,” said Little, who chipped in four assists. “The funny thing is, it just seemed like he was always open. Whenever he got it, he had time with it and you can’t give him that much time. He’s got one of the best shots in the league.
“I think he missed one chance tonight and scored on everything else. That shows just how good of a shooter he is. It’s fun to watch, that’s for sure.”
Sixteen of Laine’s 19 markers have been scored during the month of November (a span of 10 games) and the offensive explosion began with a hat trick in his home country of Finland during the NHL Global Series.
That five-game point drought leading into that game must seem like a distant memory for Laine and his teammates.
“Just get the puck to (Laine), right? He was feeling it tonight. It’s pretty special, with that shot he has,” said Jets left winger Kyle Connor, who had four assists of his own. “Well you’re definitely looking for him. It seems like everything he touches right now is going into the back of the net. When he gets on a streak like that it’s almost automatic.”
Jets head coach Paul Maurice has spoken often about Laine’s shot and goal-scoring ability and didn’t consider the achievement as much of a head scratcher as many others who witnessed it.
“To be honest with you, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner,” said Maurice. “I said that once and figured I would keep it to myself. On the nights he’s scored his three, he’s had his chances to get so much more. But boy, those
You can always score more. Tonight, it was five. There’s always next game.”
guys were so good and some of those goals, you’ve just got to sit back and smile — if you’re standing on the right bench.”
Blake Wheeler, Brandon Tanev and Brendan Lemieux also scored for the Jets, who improved to 13-7-2 on the season.