Welcome to Winnipeg, Pierre-Luc Dubois. Fresh off a 10-day injury break, the Winnipeg Jets’ prized possession in a late-January trade with Columbus has finally begun to leave his mark.
After sitting out for the duration of a mandatory 14-day quarantine before joining the Jets, Dubois suffered an injury in his second game with his new team and missed the following 10 days of action. Returning fully healed and ready to go, the newest member of Winnipeg’s dynamic offence put together a two-goal, three-point outing on Sunday evening.
Following a Friday night clash at Rogers Arena, the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks renewed acquaintances on Sunday. Once again taking place in British Columbia, the home team was looking for a different result following the 2-0 shutout to which they were handed by Laurent Brossoit and the Jets just two days prior.
The result was definitely different, but not different enough to keep Winnipeg from picking up two points. A much closer feeling contest, Sunday’s game did require overtime, to which the Jets walked away as the victor by way of a 4-3 win, with newcomer Dubois serving as the hero.
“I felt good,” Dubois said post-game. “I mean, my game is still not where I know it can be. I know I can improve on a lot of things, timing, execution, reads, stuff like that. But it felt good to be out there. Scheif and Wheels made it easy for me at times, helped me out when I was making wrong reads and stuff like that but it felt good to get back out there with them.”
The first period saw Vancouver hit the scoreboard first. Leading Winnipeg in both goals and shots on net through the first 20 minutes (17-9) the Canucks were the beneficiary of a number of bad Jets bounces. Although unable to capitalize on a Derek Forbort hooking penalty after Neal Pionk broke his stick and gave Vancouver a near breakaway, the club was able to put two goals past Connor Hellebuyck in the opening frame.
Just 3:38 into the game, Brandon Sutter won an offensive zone faceoff, pulled the puck back to his point man and made a mad dash for the Jets net. Jordie Benn’s shot missed the net wide and rebounded back in front of the net. With Hellebuyck losing sight of the disc, Sutter’s net drive paid off as the veteran centreman potted his sixth goal of the season into the open net.
Then fast-forward nearly the entire period before the Canucks managed to strike again. With the puck being controlled by Vancouver in Winnipeg’s zone, a bouncing puck rattled off three or four different players before finding itself on the stick of Elias Pettersson, who made no mistake putting the puck past Hellebuyck on a spinning between-the-leg backhander.
Winnipeg got back into the game late in the second period. Serving as a winger alongside centreman Mark Scheifele and winger Blake Wheeler, Dubois found his first goal as a member of the Jets off a swift passing play from behind the Canucks’ net. With Wheeler finding the lifelong centreman floating in the slot, big No. 13 pumped the puck past Braden Holtby and into the Vancouver net before celebrating with his linemates.
“He missed me earlier before, I knew he was coming the second time,” Dubois said of Wheeler’s assist in between periods. “It was a really nice pass by him and a nice play by Scheif on the forecheck. Playing with those two guys it makes it a lot easier out there. We feel like we are close. We are getting there. It feels like we are one pass or one touch from being right back in this. Sometimes its keeping it simple, sometimes it’s more tape to tape, and sometimes it’s finding that lane. I think we are going to do a good job of that in the third.”
In picking up the secondary assist on the play, Scheifele extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games. And then scoring the Jets’ second goal of the game on powerful wrist shot that trickled its way through Holtby and into the goal off a strong rush up ice, the former Barrie Colts forward knotted the game at twos, extending his goal-scoring streak to five games early in the third period.
With Sutter in the box for a high-sticking minor on Dubios, the victim of the play made the antagonist pay, with Dubois feeding a red-hot Neal Pionk cross-ice, who one-timed a blast through Holtby and into the net, giving Winnipeg a 3-2 lead and extending his personal point streak to four games, and picking up his 100th career NHL point in the process.
But with Holtby on the bench for the extra attacker and Josh Morrissey in the penalty box late in the game for a delay of game, puck-over-the-glass minor, Elias Pettersson scored his second goal of the game on a one-timer that beat Hellebuyck right under the bar with just 37.7 seconds remaining in the third period.
Leading the Jets 34-30 in the shot chart, Vancouver took the visitors to overtime, where it took little time for Winnipeg to strike with an all-out, three-forward attack. Just 27 seconds into the extra frame, Pierre-Luc Dubois collected a pass from Scheifele along the boards, drove right past Brock Boeser and put a wrist shot past Holtby short side to win the game for the Jets.
“It started with a nice battle in the corner from Wheels, separating the man from the puck, then Scheif, nice support,” Dubois said of the game-winner. “And then when he passed it to me I kind of heard 3-on-2 so I didn’t want to just go out there and skate full speed to the net, then I saw it was a forward kind of coming at me and it was a 1-on-1 situation with the forward skating backward so I thought worst case scenario I was going to try that move and if he has body position on me I can just turn up and then we can get that 3-on-2. In overtime, one team’s going to score, it’s a matter of time, so might as well try to be the first one to get that shot.”
Turning aside 31 of 34 shots, Connor Hellebuyck saw his record improve to 8-5-1 and 8-2-0 in his last 10 games against the Canucks. Winnipeg’s record is now 11-6-1 after sweeping the Canucks and taking one of two games against the Oilers on the four-game western road trip.
“I love it,” Scheifele said post-game of using three forwards in overtime. “I don’t know why more teams don’t do it. Obviously playing with Wheels and [Dubois] it makes it pretty fun and we showed it out there and that’s 3-on-3. it’s fun hockey, it’s offense, it’s kind of let the boys play, which is awesome.”
Going 3-1-0 in their past four, the Jets now return home for two-straight against the Montreal Canadiens to end the month, before playing host these same Canucks for two games to begin March. Lacing up next on Thursday vs. Montreal, this will be the final three-day break for Winnipeg until late-April.