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This article was published 19/11/2018 (1285 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
VANCOUVER — On a night neither team showed much interest in playing defence, the Winnipeg Jets relied on a much more potent offensive attack to outlast the Vancouver Canucks.
The Jets raced out to a 4-1 lead midway through the game, survived a Canucks’ comeback attempt and ultimately skated away with a 6-3 victory. Winnipeg improves to 12-5-2, including 4-0-1 in their past five. Vancouver has lost five straight in regulation and falls to 10-11-2.
Winger Patrik Laine led the scoring surge with a hat trick, while linemates Bryan Little and Kyle Connor also lit the lamp as the trio combined for nine points. Winnipeg also fired a season-high 49 shots on Vancouver's net.
"Obviously my linemates made some great plays," said Laine, who's now tied for the team lead with 11 tallies. "I think we have three good players on our line and I always like playing with those two. I think we’re starting to build some chemistry between the three of us. (Monday) it was just kind of clicking right off the hop."
Coaches on both teams will have plenty to review in future film sessions with their respective teams as they played a wide-open, entertaining affair with plenty of momentum swings.
The Jets couldn’t have asked for a better start as they kicked off a four-game road trip on the West Coast. Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom accidentally put a pass right on Little’s stick while playing the puck behind the net, and the veteran Jets centre fired it into the gaping cage just 1:13 into the game. It was the fourth goal of the season for Little, and one of the easiest he’ll ever score.
"Not that difficult. It was just one of those plays where I just knew that he was going to rim it. I was waiting for him and I didn’t even look at the net, really. I just put it there," Little said of the gift.
"I definitely think if you score on your first shift, it seems like you’ve got an extra gear out there and that’s the way it was tonight. We got that one early and we were skating really well together."
Winnipeg had plenty of early jump, outshooting Vancouver 11-1 before the game was barely seven minutes old.
"I think you hear coach talk about a shooter’s mentality, and that’s really what we did there. Gets everybody’s feet moving and we’re just a better team," said Connor.
Vancouver tied it up just over eight minutes into the period with Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien in the penalty box for slashing. Canucks rookie sensation and Calder Trophy favourite Elias Pettersson's 12th of the year was a rocket that beat Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck high.
It proved to just be a temporary blip for the Jets, who regained the lead with six minutes left in the period as Mark Scheifele scored on a rebound off Nikolaj Ehlers’ shot for his 11th of the season.
Connor quickly made it 3-1 with a power-play goal 39 seconds later. Scheifele kicked the puck up to Connor, who beat Markstrom upstairs for his ninth of the year. It took the Jets’ No. 1 power play just 23 seconds to convert.
The shots were 23-7 for Winnipeg after 20 minutes, and the Jets appeared to have the game in control. That especially seemed to be the case when Laine scored at 10:04 of the middle frame. His first five-on-five goal of the season came after a pair of Vancouver players ran into each other and Connor grabbed the loose puck, dropping it to Laine for the wrister.
Vancouver’s Antoine Roussel tried to spark his team by fighting Brandon Tanev off the ensuing faceoff, and it appeared to work. Despite drawing an extra minor for slashing, teammate Tyler Motte scored short-handed after he blocked Byfuglien’s ill-advised one-timer and got a breakaway.
Then the Jets gifted the Canucks another goal late in the period as defenceman Tyler Myers made a terrible giveaway in his own end. Nikolay Goldobin was the benefactor as he beat Hellebuyck on a deke.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said he liked the way his team handled things after the three-goal lead quickly became just one.
"I didn’t think we were wobbling. The other team gets paid too. Both of their goals were good goals. They didn’t get a bad one on us tonight," said Maurice.
"I just don’t feel like we needed to steady ourselves. I didn’t think we came off of it. The other team is going to have a little bit of a push. Part of what they do in a game, their D are getting up the ice all the time. That’s also how we scored some of our guys. We handled a few of those four men in off the rush well. I thought we were pretty solid."
With the teams going back and forth in the third despite the Jets holding a sizable shot advantage, Laine gave his team some breathing room with just over five minutes to play. He took a pass from Connor and Little and one-timed it past Markstrom.
"They had their moments when they pressed hard and put us on our heels a bit. When they got the shorthanded one, they got some jump and momentum from that. It put us on our heels. But for us, the big thing was that third period. We kept in it and we stayed positive. This team always comes out hard in the third. We were confident that we were going to get the job done," Little said of continuing to pressure the Canucks.
Laine then sealed it with an empty-netter with just under two minutes to play and several hats rained down on the ice at Rogers Arena from Jets faithful in the crowd. Connor finished with a goal and three assists, while Little had a goal and an assist.
"Obviously it’s bothering me because you’re not producing five-on-five. But when you stay patient and work hard you’re going to get rewarded like I got rewarded (Monday). I think just being patient, that’s going to be the key from now on. If I don’t score in the next 20 five-on-five, I’m not going to lose it all. I’m going to stay patient and keep working hard," said Laine.
The shots ended up 49-24 in favour of Winnipeg.
"I think our line’s pretty dynamic. We can score off the rush. I thought we had some good (offensive) zone time, too. You never want to be one dimensional as a player or a line. I think that really contributes to our success," said Connor, who now has nine points in his past five games.
"I think it’s getting better each game, and continue to strive to be a better player out there. I think when our team’s playing the right way, and me personally, we get our chances. It’s just a matter of burying them."
The road trip continues Wednesday in Calgary against the Flames, followed by back-to-back games Friday afternoon against the Wild in Minnesota and and Saturday night in St. Louis against the Blues.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.