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Winnipeg Jets beat Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in hard-hitting, chippy affair

Winnipeg Jets' Neal Pionk, left, checks Vancouver Canucks' Quinn Hughes during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 17, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Winnipeg Jets' Neal Pionk, left, checks Vancouver Canucks' Quinn Hughes during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 17, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele summed up his team's 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks as “an absolute blast.”

Scheifele had a hand in allfour of his team's goals on Saturday night in a game featuring one player being ejected and a number of punishing hits.

“It was awesome. It was fun. That's what you want when you got two Canadian teams going at it. That's what everyone wants to see and it was an absolute blast,” he said.

Scheifele had a goal and three assists, Gabriel Vilardi had two goals and an assist, Kyler Connor had two assists, and Sean Monahan scored his first goal for Winnipeg (33-14-5).

Tyler Myers and Noah Juulsen scored for the Canucks (37-13-6), while Conor Garland and Ilya Mikheyev earned assists.

The winning goal came as Juulsen went to lay out Scheifele, creating a three-on-one with Connor sliding a pass to an open Vilardi at 7:47 of the third period.

Jets coach Rick Bowness praised his team's performance, adding that this sort of matchup was a sign of things to come.

“That's what it's gonna be like from here on out. It's teams fighting for playoff spots, positioning in the league and there's only 30 games to go for us and every one is going to be a battle,” he said. “That was a hard-fought win and that's the type of hockey it's going to be from here on out.”

Thatcher Demko stopped 24 of 28 shots for Vancouver while Connor Hellebuyck stopped 35 of 37 for Winnipeg.

Vilardi said his team owes much of its success to Hellebuyck and the offence wanted to step up and help.

“(Hellebuyck) can only do so much. We got to score and it was nice that the power play finally contributed and we need to keep that going,” Vilardi said.

Scheifele doubled the lead two minutes later, breaking away from Juulsen to tuck home a pass from Connor for the insurance goal.

The drama and action started in the second after a quiet opening frame.

The Jets took the lead at 9:25 of the second period through Monahan, immediately after Canucks forward Phil Di Giuseppe was given a game misconduct, and an instigator penalty, for fighting with Adam Lowry.

Scheifele wristed a pass to Vilardi at the side of the net who fed it to an open Monahan.

Myers evened it up at 14:19, dancing his way to the net to score a backhand goal past Hellebuyck.

Juulsen opened the scoring for the Canucks 19 seconds into the second period, driving to the net and finding a loose pass from Garland which he roofed past a stranded Hellebuyck. It was his first goal as a Canuck and first in 72 games.

“I mean the goal doesn't matter at all obviously. You know the third one I went for the hit ended up in the back of our net and the fourth one is on me as well,” said Juulsen after the game, pinning the loss on his miscues.

Canucks coach Rick Tocchet disputed his defenceman's assessment in taking responsibility for the loss, adding it was a learning lesson for his team as a whole.

“I think we're getting frustrated with some things out there,” he said.

“We've got to build a resolve when you're in tight situations that you are going to make sure you keep your head.”

But the Jets tied the game midway through the period, on the power play, with Scheifele finding an open Vilardi alone in front of Demko who had no trouble slipping his shot past the Canucks netminder.

The first period started slowly, before Scheifele thought he opened the scoring seven minutes into the game, only for the referees to wave the goal off and determining he pushed Demko into the net.

The Canucks best chance in the opening frame also came on the power play, with Elias Lindholm open at the far post but couldn't beat Hellebuyck with six minutes left.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2024.

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