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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — It's not often a coach will joke about a goaltender giving up four goals, but Winnipeg's Paul Maurice did just that after the Jets beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4 on Thursday night.
Rookie Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves and remained undefeated in his four-game NHL career, but it was the first game he'd let in more than one goal.
When told the 22-year-old was disappointed about that, Maurice responded with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
"Send him down. He's got a one-goal limit," he said.
Maurice added in a more serious tone that Hellebuyck made saves when he had to and that the Jets had "a lot of really good performances throughout the game."
That included mounting a 3-0 lead on their first five shots and a four-point performance from Mathieu Perreault.
Perreault scored once and added three assists to tie his career-high for points. He had four goals in a game last season.
Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry, Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler also scored for Winnipeg. Byfuglien, Stafford and Bryan Little each added two assists and Scheifele had one.
"Give them credit for not quitting," Perreault said of the Blue Jackets. "We had two times a three-goal lead and they came back and almost made it a tie game."
Columbus coach John Tortorella wasn't comforted by the comeback attempt.
"We lost the game, so we can break it down all you want as far as a push here and a push there — we didn't play well enough to win," he said.
Cam Atkinson scored consecutive goals to pull Columbus within 5-4 in the third period before Wheeler scored into an empty net. Boone Jenner and Scott Hartnell each added their 12th goals of the season, and Alexander Wennberg had three assists.
Curtis McElhinney stopped 29 shots for Columbus and fell to 0-5-1. McElhinney started in place of Sergei Bobrovsky, who suffered a groin strain on Tuesday and is expected to be out three weeks.
Scheifele picked up his team-leading 11th goal of the season 27 seconds into the game.
After taking a shot near the top of the circle that banged off the glass behind the net, Scheifele went to the net and banked the bouncing puck off McElhinney with a backhand.
Just 1:55 later, Lowry scored his first goal of the season by redirecting Byfuglien's shot from the point at 2:22.
The pair of goals was the second fastest to begin a game in the Jets/Thrashers' franchise history, according to Elias. The fastest was 1:22 in 2002.
Columbus didn't get its first shot at Hellebuyck until almost 4 minutes into the period.
The Jets made it 3-0 at 10:48 with Byfuglien's power-play goal, but Columbus finally scored after Hellebuyck missed sweeping the puck out of the crease and Jenner banged it in at 15:38.
With 56 seconds left in the second period, Hartnell used a rebound during a power play to put the puck past Hellebuyck.
"I thought it was OK," Hellebuyck said of his play. "I liked some things. Like I said, I want to tighten up some things. I don't want to be letting in four goals so I'll go to practice and I'll figure some things out."
The Jets made it 5-2 on goals from Stafford and Perreault by 7:36 of the third period before Atkinson got his pair. Wheeler rounded out the scoring with an empty netter.
NOTES: Winnipeg heads to Chicago on Friday night to face the Blackhawks, who lost 5-1 to Nashville on Thursday night. It's the seventh back-to-back set for the Jets this season. They're 2-3-1 in the second games so far. ... Columbus hosts the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
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