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LOS ANGELES — Winnipeg is tied for the most goals scored in March, but the Jets are also proving that they are just as tough in close games.
The Jets won their third straight one-goal game, edging the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday night. The win gives them 90 points and a three-point lead over Nashville atop the Central Division with less than three weeks to go in the regular season.
“It’s an important win,” said defenceman Tyler Myers, who scored the game-winning goal. “I feel like this time of the year games start tightening up and scores get lower. You can tell it is starting to get into that playoff-hockey mode. It’s a good type style of play we want to get used to in April and the post-season.”
The game was tied at 2 in the second period when Myers went the length of the ice on an odd-man rush and beat goalie Jack Campbell on his glove side for his ninth of the season at 16:50.
Kyle Connor had a goal and an assist and Kevin Hayes also scored for Winnipeg, which is 18-6-4 in one-goal games this season. The Jets have scored three or more in six of their nine March games, and their 34 goals are tied with Tampa Bay for most this month.
“When you think about the Jets it is usually high scoring, but the past couple games we have been playing good defence in the third and squeezing out wins,” Hayes said. “That is what it takes this time of the year when you need points.”
Laurent Brossoit made 15 saves for Winnipeg.
Sean Walker and Dustin Brown had the goals for the Kings. Campbell stopped 25 shots.
Los Angeles, which has dropped six of seven and 15 of 18, was eliminated from playoff contention. At 58 points, the Kings are last in the Western Conference and have the second-fewest points in the NHL.
“It’s definitely a sour taste and thoughts,” captain Anze Kopitar said. “The whole year has been disappointing and now we are eliminated officially. No one guy in this room should be OK with what has been going on this year.”
Winnipeg took the lead with two goals 65 seconds apart in the first period on rebounds. Hayes scored his 17th of the season at 11:32 when he put in the rebound of Connor’s wraparound. The Jets added to their lead on the power play when Connor was able to put home his second attempt in front after his first shot hit the right post. He has 28 goals, 11 on the power play.
Los Angeles rallied by scoring the next two. The Kings got on the board at 14:55 of the first period when Walker let loose a slap shot and beat Brossoit top shelf and just inside the left post for his third. Brown tied it at 10:21 of the second with a wrist shot from the left circle on the power play.
It was Brown’s 19th goal and his team-leading eighth on the power play. It also was his third goal in the past four games.
The Kings, though, couldn’t manage any offence after that. There was a stretch of 19:27 spanning the second and third periods when Los Angeles didn’t get a shot on goal.
“It was a real good grinder,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “I didn’t feel the game ebbed and flowed. We got better as the game went along.”
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