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.
Blake 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, Adam 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’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
Connor Hellebuyck, who was helped out with a trio of posts, earned his 21st career shutout in a 22-save effort.
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.
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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