A first-period flurry of offence from the visiting Vancouver Canucks was the difference on Monday night, as they rode three deflections to a 3-0 lead in the opening frame – and didn’t let the Winnipeg Jets dig into that advantage for the rest of the game en route to a 4-0 win.
Try as they might, the Jets (13-7-1) couldn’t solve Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko.
The 25-year old stopped all 27 shots he faced, earning the Canucks (9-14-2) their first shutout of the year – and becoming the first goaltender to hold the Jets scoreless.
Canucks defenseman Nate Schmidt opened the scoring 8:28 into the first period, ripping a one-timer off the blade of Andrew Copp’s stick and over the glove of Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
Before the hosts could even collect their thoughts following Schmidt’s goal, he did it again just 18 seconds later – this time, throwing a wrist shot on net that was tipped by J.T. Miller before beating Hellebuyck over the other shoulder.
Rookie Nils Hoglander scored the Canucks’ third deflected goal of the period on the games first power play, after tipping a shot from former Jet Tyler Myers.
The Canucks ended the first period with a dominant lead, despite the teams ending the frame tied in shots at seven, and vaulted into second place league-wide with 25 first-period goals.
Jets coach Paul Maurice made the first lineup move among his forwards in more than a week early on in the second period – sending Pierre-Luc Dubois down to his natural centre position on the second line, while Paul Stastny joined Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele on the top line.
Despite the shuffle, it resulted in less production – the Jets put only five shots on net in the scoreless middle frame.
The Canucks continued to stifle the Jets’ attack in the third, until Maurice pulled Hellebuyck for the extra attacker with more than five minutes left in the game.
Elias Pettersson iced the game with an empty-netter.
Hellebuyck stopped a few more Canucks shots after returning to the crease – but finished with a dreary .833 save percentage, making 15 saves on 18 shots.
The Canucks win was their first in five games – while the Jets’ season-long four-game winning streak was snapped with the loss.
In his third game filling in for the injured Tucker Poolman, defenceman Sami Niku logged 14:00 of ice time, the most he’s seen since the first game of the season.
The Canucks are now 9-2-2 when scoring first, compared to the club’s 0-12 record when allowing the game’s first goal.
The nine-game season series between the two clubs is now tied at two games apiece, with a rematch tomorrow night.
Kelly Moore hosts the pregame show live on 680 CJOB beginning at 5 p.m. – Jamie Thomas and Paul Edmonds have the call of the game at 7 p.m.
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