Led by goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, the Winnipeg Jets snapped a six-game home losing streak Tuesday night, by way of a 4-0 shutout over the visiting Vancouver Canucks. For Winnipeg, it was only the team’s first win in its last 11 games (4-5-2), while Vancouver came into Tuesday’s contest on a 8-2-0 tear.
The game began with a crazy sequence of events that saw the puck enter the Canucks’ goal three times, only to have Winnipeg credited for one of the goals. Just 1:18 into the opening frame, Mark Scheifele banked a pass off a Canucks’ defenceman’s leg and under the net, where it came to rest past the goal line within the net. Much to the displeasure of Jets fans, the ‘goal’ was disallowed.
“We start, clearly right, getting pucks to the net from a more directive mindset, so it’s good that there was a payoff,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “When you’re waiting for the review on the coach’s challenge goal and it’s a long wait. Then, you get the stanchion go down and you’re worried that you’re going to come off your game. I liked it, pretty much through the start of the third period. We were pretty good tonight.”
Only four seconds after the puck was dropped, Kyle Connor put it past Jacob Markstrom and into the net, legally, off of a great setup play from defenceman Sami Niku and Patrik Laine. The goal was Connor’s 23rdof the season, putting him on pace for a new career high. 33 seconds after the Connor strike, Anthony Bitetto thought he had his first tally as a Jet, but the Canucks successfully challenged for offside, negating the defenceman’s opening period strike.
With just over five minutes to play in the period, Adam Lowry found a streaking Jack Roslovic, who walked in untouched before burying his eighth of the season on a good-looking wrist shot upstairs. Despite holding a two-goal lead through the first 20 minutes of the game, Winnipeg was outshot by Vancouver 13-10 in the frame.
The second period saw Blake Wheeler find his 15th goal of the season on a soft power play marker, in which his redirection setup to Kyle Connor went untouched and into the Canucks net, while Chris Tanev sat on in the penalty box. Winnipeg continued the trend of being outshot, as the visitors put up 14 more shots in the frame, as compared to Winnipeg’s nine.
“Usually we have a set play going into it,” Connor said of Niku’s setup play. “He came down the wall and found some space on the weak side, and I was hoping he saw me. I didn’t want to call for it to draw a defender. It’s a pretty incredible pass and I just tried to get it off quick.”
After playing fundamentally sound first and second periods, Connor Hellebuyck found himself as a recipient of some luck in the third. Elias Pettersson hit another post, while the crafty forward also sent the puck trickling through the crease on a separate occasion.
After Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor played hot potato en route to an empty-net goal, Hellebuyck tried his hand at a goal himself, however the puck jumped over his stick at the last minute, before Bo Horvat knocked it out of the air, negating the chance.
“I mean my heart was racing after that,” Hellebuyck said. “It was my first attempt, so I was trying to settle the puck and it just turned up on me. So I didn’t get everything I wanted on it. I don’t think it would have went in but it’s stepping stones.”
Hellebuyck was solid, stopping all 41 shots that came his way, while Markstrom turned aside 21 of the 24 shots he faced Tuesday. The shutout was the 18th of Hellebuyck’s career, moving past Ondrej Pavelec to first place in Jets’ franchise history.
“I never realized that,” Hellebuyck laughed. “It’s pretty exciting. That will definitely be a milestone. I hope I get that puck.”
After snapping the home losing streak, Winnipeg will now take on another ‘blue’-hot team in the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the Jets welcome the Bolts to Bell MTS Place Friday evening in a 7:00 PM central matchup with the inter-conference rivals. The game can be view on TSN.