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Jets Keep Winning, Wallop Canucks 5-1 on the Coast

Connor Hellebuyck Solid Once Again as Jets Whip Vancouver 5-1 (Photo by Jordy Grossman)

Jets Keep Winning, Wallop Canucks 5-1 on the Coast

The Winnipeg Jets are on a two-game winning streak, but perhaps more importantly, they have won five straight on the road.

Saturday night, the NHL’s Road Warriors got goals from Kyle Connor, Kyle Capobianco, Neal Pionk, Sam Gagner and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby while Connor Hellebuyck had another solid outing as the Jets dominated the Vancouver Canucks, eviscerating the home side 5-1 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

For Capobianco, the former Arizona Coyotes second-round draft pick (63rd overall in 2015), scorned his first goal as a member of the Jets with a cannon from the point that gave Winnipeg a 2-0 second-period lead. He hadn’t played in nearly a month and yet was one of the best players on the ice on a night when the Jets not only played without Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler and Nate Schmidt, but dominated the game without them.

“I’m just grateful that I get to play in this league, because it’s a special league,” Capobianco told Hockey Night in Canada’s Scott Oake, who asked the big defenceman about his goal. “I hadn’t take many shots so I just teed one up and it went through. I thought maybe somebody tipped it because my shot isn’t that hard, but I’m grateful the guys did a good job around the net to screen the goaltender.”

The Jets came out flying and scored quickly as Connor tallied his 13th of the season on the power play at 2:51. Pierre-Luc Dubois made a great rush down the right wing and then whipped a perfect backhand pass onto the stick of Connor who beat Vancouver net minder Spencer Martin on the short side. Josh Morrissey also drew an assist — his 200th NHL point. Morrissey now has five goals and 34 points, third in scoring among NHL defensemen.

Connor, meanwhile, extended his points’ streak to eight games.

The Jets outshot the Canucks 11-3 in the opening period, but scored only once.

In the second period, Capobianco scored his goal from Sam Gagner and Dubois at 5:30, then at 12:08, Neal Pionk ripped an awesome one-timer off a long, hard pass from Brenden Dillon that beat Martin high to the short-side right from the point. Cole Perfetti also drew an assist as the Jets took a 3-0 lead into the third period.

In the third, the Jets started the blow-out early. Gagner scored his fifth of the year at the 56-second mark, set up beautifully by Dubois. Then, Axel-Jonsson-Fjallby notched his second of the season at 7:59, taking an excellent pass from Dylan Samberg as the Canucks made an ill-timed changed. Jonsson-Fjallby scooted down the right wing and beat Martin cleanly with a wrist shot just below the bar. That made it 5-0 and all the Jets wanted at this point was to preserve the shutout for Hellebuyck.

That dream failed when Vancouver’s Bo Horvat scored on a power play at 14:36 of the third. Of course, that was way too little, way too late as the Jets improved to 20-9-1 on the season, the first team in the Central Division to reach 20 wins this season. Winnipeg remained in second-place in the Central Division, just one point back of Dallas with two games in hand.

Hellebuyck, meanwhile, is now 16-7-1 this season. His goals against average dropped to 2.32 and his save percentage jumped to .930.

The Jets outshot Vancouver 27-23 while Vancouver won 59 per cent of the face-offs. The Canucks also outhit the Jets 38-11 (whomever was counting that stat was on crack). Winnipeg had a goal on two power-play chances while Vancouver had one on three man-advantage opportunities.

The best stats line of the night belonged to Pierre-Luc Dubois (again) who had three assists and was plus-two with no shots on goal and two blocked shots in 16 minutes and 14 seconds of ice time.

The fact the Jets have now bounced back from a mini-slump (losing two in a row at home last week) to win their last two and five straight on the road is a testament to the coaching of Rick Bowness and his staff. Playing without Wheeler, Ehlers, Appleton and Schmidt would have crippled last year’s Jets, but this year, the replacements for the stars have been shockingly good. In Vancouver on Saturday, Samberg, Capobianco, Jonsson-Fjallby and Gagner each put forth excellent efforts.

The Jets will do it again on the road on Sunday night when they face the Kraken in Seattle. Game time is 7 p.m. CST on TSN3.

Covered his first junior hockey game for the Sarnia Observer in 1968. Covered his first Jets game for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1980. Still thinks hockey is the bees knees.

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