Blake Wheeler's 90th point of season lifts Jets over Flames 2-1

Calgary Flames goaltender Jon Gillies (32) saves the shot by Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Copp (9) as Mikael Backlund (11) defends during third period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG - Connor Hellebuyck could sit out the Winnipeg Jets' final game of the regular season on Saturday, but the goaltender has a major accomplishment he'd like to try to achieve.

Hellebuyck made 31 saves in Winnipeg's 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday, giving him 43 wins on the season. That tied former Pittsburgh netminder Tom Barrasso (1992-93) for the most victories in a season by an American goalie.

Coach Paul Maurice said earlier Thursday that he'd leave it up to Hellebuyck if he'd play against Calgary and then the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

The Commerce, Mich., native thinks he will definitely be between the pipes.

"Yes, because we're tied, right, with Tom Barrasso? We need one more (win)," Hellebuyck said with a laugh.

Blake Wheeler scored once to pick up his 90th point of the season in the Jets' fourth-straight win.

Wheeler's goal was his 23rd of the season. Paul Stastny also scored for Winnipeg (51-20-10), which is 10-1-0 in its past 11 games.

Rookie Spencer Foo earned his first NHL goal in his third game for the Flames (36-35-10).

"Just went to the net hard there and had it go off my foot," said Foo of his goal that squeezed Winnipeg's lead to 2-1 late in the second period. "Feels good. I'll take it."

Jon Gillies stopped 24 shots for Calgary, which is 1-9-0 in its past 10 games and concludes the regular season at home Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

"I thought Jon Gilles played a good game tonight," said Flames coach Glen Gulutzan. "He looked a little nervous early, but really settled into the game and made some big saves off some big players."

Wheeler praised Hellebuyck for his record-tying win total (43-11-9).

"What an accomplishment for him," Wheeler said. "Things like that don't happen every year so you need to enjoy them when they do happen.

"Really happy for him. I'm sure he's proud of himself. Hopefully, he'll win one more if he plays (on Saturday) and that'd be a pretty cool thing to have for him."

Winnipeg will play the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs after Nashville beat Washington 4-3 earlier Thursday to clinch top spot in the Central Division and Western Conference with 115 points.

"We gotta get through one more and then we'll start to zero in on Minnesota," Wheeler said when asked about learning their first-round opponent.

The captain, who has five goals and 14 points in his past 11 games, became the fourth player in franchise history to hit the 90-point mark, and first since Ilya Kovalchuk in 2008-09. His previous career-high was 78 points two years ago.

Jets rookie Kyle Connor assisted on Wheeler's goal, giving him 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his past 12 games.


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