After opening their season’s longest road trip with two consecutive losses, one could expect the Winnipeg Jets to be in tough against a surging Vancouver Canucks team on Monday night.
But a dominant third period, a perfect night from their goaltender and a little puck-luck along the way all combined to get the Jets off the schneid – no matter how brief their skid may have been – and back in the win column, by a score of 4-0 Monday night.
After losing their first two games on the seven-game trip, the victory avoided the Jets first three game losing streak of the season.
The Jets top line of Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Paul Stastny broke out of a mini-slump by scoring two goals at even strength after notching just three goals at 5-on-5 in their previous eight games combined.
“It’s good to get a bounce go our way,” said Wheeler. “Obviously, a little bit snake bitten, just not really the results we’re looking for in the games prior. So, it’s the hardest part about this game, and this league – is playing when you don’t feel great about the results you’re getting, and your confidence is low. I mean, you could spend 15 years in this league and your confidence can dry up pretty quick, so it was a good bounce back game.”
The Jets have won seven straight games in the city of Vancouver.
The Canucks had points in eight of their previous nine games (7-1-1) before the loss.
Connor Hellebuyck made 22 stops for his 21st career shutout, but his first of the season.
“It means everything,” Hellebuyck said. “It means you’ve finally perfected a game. I’m never going to say my game is perfect, but for one game, with the guys in front of me, we played a perfect game, granted there is some luck in there.”
The Canucks hit three posts/crossbars throughout the game.
Adam Lowry scored a pair of goals for just his sixth career multi-goal game.
“I thought it was a pretty complete, pretty solid effort,” said Lowry. “Throughout the game, we didn’t really give them a whole lot. I know a couple posts that they got and a couple of other chances, but Helly (Hellebuyck) was rock solid back there.”
“You could feel it during the day right at the morning skate,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “That the mood was right, the minds were right. They were excited about the game. There was nobody dragging. Had a really good understanding of the weight of the game after losing two that we wanted to be right.”
Wheeler was the last person on the scoresheet in Saturday’s loss to Edmonton – earning a game misconduct after throwing the puck into the stands at the final buzzer.
This time, he was the first player penciled on Monday’s record, opening the scoring when he fooled Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko with a wrister that snuck through the five-hole.
The Jets captain had the club’s best chance in the remaining time in the first period, but his odd-man rush with Paul Stastny was stymied by Demko.
The Jets finished the first period with consistent zone time, a 1-0 lead and an 11-9 shot advantage over the hosts.
After gaining some momentum back following a second period power play, the Canucks opened the third with a dominant shift – but lost their captain for the game when Alexander Edler blasted a shot that hit Bo Horvat in the lower leg.
The very next shift, Lowry widened the visitors’ lead when his shot deflected off a defender’s stick, rainbowing over Demko and into an empty cage.
The team’s top two goal-scorers – Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor – had a brilliant chance to put a third past Demko on a two-man breakaway, but St. Malo product Travis Hamonic got back in time to put a stick on Connor’s shot.
Lowry would make no mistake when a tipped pass from Andrew Copp found his stick at the post and he banged home his second of the night for a 3-0 lead.
As he tied his father Peter Statsny’s games played mark in his 977th NHL contest, Stastny scored his 10th of the year as Demko tried to make it to the Vancouver bench for an extra attacker.
ANALYSIS: Winnipeg Jets at the half
Demko stopped 25 of 29 for a .862 save percentage.
Neal Pionk logged 22:35 of ice-time, highest on the Jets, while Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes had a game-high 23:15.
With one assist, Josh Morrissey now has six points over his last six games.
Tyler Graovac was a minus-1 in 9:31 of ice time in his first NHL game of the season. He started the campaign with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose before a recent callup.
The Canucks lost their first game of a three-game homestand amid what’s largely a road-centric schedule – playing 11 of 14 away from British Columbia.
Winnipeg resumes its season-long seven game road trip Wednesday when the two teams play again at Rogers Arena.
Kelly Moore provides pre-game coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. on 680 CJOB.
You can hear the game live with Paul Edmonds and Jamie Thomas at 9:30.
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