The Vancouver Canucks beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 Monday night, handing the Jets their ninth loss in the past 10 games.
If you didn’t know any better you would think the Canucks were fighting for a playoff spot. They were faster, stronger and better defensively.
The Winnipeg Jets, on the other hand, should be thanking their lucky stars they put themselves in a position to lose nine of their last ten and still comfortably make it into the postseason.
Just over three minutes into the opening frame, Vancouver’s Nils Höglander poked a puck away at the blueline from Ville Heinola to go in on a breakaway. The rookie’s wrist shot bounced off Laurent Brossoit’s pad and the young Swede took advantage of a juicy rebound tapping in his 11th of the season to open the scoring.
Brossoit struggled early on reading and handling the puck early and Vancouver jumped all over him. Less than eight minutes into the game, Matthew Highmore’s wrist shot deflected into the boards and Tanner Pearson followed the puck poking it behind him to captain Bo Horvat for another easy tap-in goal to double the lead.
The Jets cut the lead in half midway through the first period as Mathieu Perreault picked up a loose puck and caught Jayce Hawryluk flat-footed in the corner before feeding a perfect pass to a wide-open Kyle Connor. Connor easily roofed his 23rd of the season over Thatcher Demko to get his first point in eight games.
A stalemate of a second period saw the puck in the Jets’ end most of the time as Vancouver seemed just a step quicker than the home team and got their sticks into lanes, stalling most breakout attempts.
Just after the ten minute mark in the third, a 2-on-1 and an unfortunate bounce led to a 3-1 lead for the Canucks. Höglander’s cross-ice feed deflected off Josh Morrissey’s glove as he reached to break up the pass. Brossoit couldn’t react in time and the Swedish rookie picked up his second of the game.
Connor had two chances to bring his team within one off of a beautiful feed from Mark Scheifele. Connor took the seeing-eye pass that made its way through two defenders’ legs sending Connor in on Demko all alone. Demko didn’t bite on the first fake making the save with his right pad and he gobbled up the rebound Connor flipped into his chest on his second attempt.
Late in the third, Perreault was knocked awkwardly into the end boards and slowly went to the bench in noticeable discomfort.
The Jets pulled Brossoit with just over two minutes left hoping their next two shots would get past Demko who had already stopped 38 of 39 shots. Demko slammed the door on any comeback attempt, picking up his 14th win of the season.
Paul Maurice shuffled some lines putting Andrew Copp on the second line alongside Pierre-Luc Dubois and Matthieu Perreault. Paul Stastny, who has played on several different lines since rejoining the Jets, lined up beside Adam Lowry and Mason Appleton on the third line.
The Jets will try it again against the Canucks Tuesday night at 7 p.m. and you can hear the call on 680 CJOB starting with pre-game coverage at 5 p.m.
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