Jets find stride as Laine, Myers combine against Canucks
Hellebuyck makes 31 saves as Winnipeg looks to reverse nightmarish start
The Winnipeg Jets are finding their stride following a nightmare start to the season.
Patrik Laine and Tyler Myers scored 3:13 apart late in the second period Thursday as Winnipeg downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.
The Jets opened the schedule with an embarrassing 7-2 loss on home ice to the Toronto Maple Leafs before falling 6-3 in Calgary to the Flames.
But the club followed up Monday's encouraging 5-2 road victory over the Edmonton Oilers with another solid performance at Rogers Arena.
"We played exactly the way we wanted to," said Myers. "[It's] a good start to creating a new habit of how we need to play to win."
Josh Morrissey and Nikolaj Ehlers, into an empty net, had the other goals for Winnipeg (2-2-0), while Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves. Bryan Little added two assists.
"We're grinding teams down," said Hellebuyck. "You can't argue we have a lot of skill on this team, but knowing when to use it is a key."
Daniel Sedin and Christopher Tanev replied for Vancouver (1-1-1), which got 16 stops from Jacob Markstrom as the Canucks lost in regulation for the first time in 2017-18.
"It might have been our best game out of the three," said head coach Travis Green. "That's a really good team over there. We did a lot of good things tonight. A lot of nights we probably win that game.
"Sometimes you're going to play well and lose."
Laine provides spark
Tied 1-1 through 20 minutes, Laine brought a sleepy middle period to life with 4:29 left when he took a feed from Little and fired a shot low glove side on Markstrom, who was partially screened by Canucks defenceman Michael Del Zotto.
Let's take a closer look at that <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LaineLaser?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LaineLaser</a>! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoJetsGo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoJetsGo</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPGvsVAN?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPGvsVAN</a> <a href="https://t.co/vf1nmbKSH3">pic.twitter.com/vf1nmbKSH3</a>—@NHLJets
Jets blue liner Dmitry Kulikov hit the post on the next shift, but Myers eventually stretched Winnipeg's lead to 3-1 with 1:16 remaining in the period when he finished off a short-handed 2-on-1 rush by ripping a shot past Markstrom's ear.
- Jumps into the rush<br>- Absolutely snipes<br>- Is a defenseman<br><br>Nicely done, Tyler Myers. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPGvsVAN?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPGvsVAN</a> <a href="https://t.co/I35wq6h1gE">pic.twitter.com/I35wq6h1gE</a>—@NHL
"It feels great to be back out with the guys," said Myers, who was limited to just 11 games last season because of a groin injury. "Still getting used to some situations and some different plays, but it's coming back quick."
Hellebuyck stopped 37 shots in the Jets' victory in Edmonton, and got his blocker on a Bo Horvat chance earlier in the period on a power play to keep his team up by one.
The netminder made his second straight start after free-agent signing Steve Mason allowed 11 goals on 65 shots in Winnipeg's disastrous first two games.
Hellebuyck doing, 'little things right'
"I'm getting more comfortable in the net and a lot of that is the guys in front of me," said Hellebuyck. "We're blocking shots and doing the little things right.
"It's really paying off."
Playing with just five defencemen after Alexander Edler left in the first with a lower-body injury, Tanev scored on a knuckleball from the point with 7:17 left in the third that completely fooled Hellebuyck to get the Canucks to within one.
"I'm not going to be playing baseball any time soon," said Hellebuyck, who made another great stop on Horvat on a power play earlier in the period. "The way he hit that was really weird."
The hosts pressed for the tie late, but couldn't find the range before Ehlers, who had a hat trick against the Oilers, scored into an empty net.
Canucks winger Brock Boeser made his 2017-18 debut after sitting out Vancouver's first two games. The 23rd pick at the 2015 NHL draft, who had four goals in nine games after signing at the end of last season and led the Canucks in scoring in exhibition play, got into the middle of the action on a first-period man advantage.
Boeser found himself all alone in the slot and blasted a shot that Hellebuyck got a glove on before Daniel Sedin banged home the rebound at 7:25.
But the Jets responded just 1:39 later when Morrissey threw the puck in front that deflected off Del Zotto's skate and past Markstrom on sequence that started when Canucks forward Sven Baertschi lost his stick.
"We're not trying to get too cute when things aren't going our way," said Myers. "That's a habit we have to start creating where it becomes second nature for us.
"We have to realize we're generating success with that approach."