Gabe Vilardi haunts his old team as Jets defeat Kings, 5-2

Gabe Vilardi scored a career-high four points with a goal and three assists in his impressive return to Los Angeles, leading the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night.

Vilardi scored his second goal of the season early in the third period to complete the biggest offensive night of his five-year career in his first game against the Kings, who drafted him with the 11th pick in 2017.

The Kings sent him to the Jets last summer along with Alex Iafallo and Rasmus Kupari in a trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois. If that wasn’t enough motivation, Vilardi then injured his right knee when L.A.’s Blake Lizotte tripped him during the Kings’ 5-1 win in Winnipeg two months ago, sidelining him until Nov. 30.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice in Winnipeg’s three-goal second period and added a late assist for the Jets, who rallied from an early two-goal deficit to finish their four-game West Coast trip with three victories. Winnipeg has won five of six overall.

Mark Scheifele finished with two goals and an assist after scoring an empty-net goal, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for Winnipeg. Vilardi had the primary assist on each of the Jets’ three second-period goals.

Rookie Alex Laferriere scored an extraordinary goal from behind the extended goal line for the Kings, who have lost three straight for the first time this season. After wasting a strong first period with a dismal second period, Los Angeles failed to earn a point for only the fourth time in 21 games.

Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and Cam Talbot stopped 24 shots.

Dubois had an assist in his second game against the Jets since the trade. Dubois got a goal in his return to Winnipeg on Oct. 17 for Los Angeles’ 5-1 victory.

Kopitar opened the scoring on a power play midway through the first period, collecting his own rebound in front for his 11th goal.

Laferriere then added his third goal of the season from a nearly impossible angle. The puck was several inches behind the red line near the corner when the 22-year-old forward took his shot, but it rose at the perfect trajectory to get over Hellebuyck’s shoulder, behind his neck and into the net.

Ehlers got Winnipeg on the board early in the second, taking a drop pass from Vilardi and scoring his eighth goal. The Danish forward tied it seven minutes later.

Scheifele put the Jets ahead when he collected a rebound behind the net and wrapped it around for his 10th goal.

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