Jets comeback bid falls short in 3-2 loss to Canucks

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VANCOUVER -- Paul Maurice had a feeling his team was in for a tough night.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/11/2021 (442 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

VANCOUVER — Paul Maurice had a feeling his team was in for a tough night.

Following back-to-back games against the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week, a pair of tilts that took a significant physical and emotional toll, the Winnipeg Jets head coach predicted a steep climb ahead for his club against the Vancouver Canucks Friday.

“I thought we’ve seen a lot of growth in our team in our last two games and I’m not couching this,” Maurice said late Thursday, following the Jets 2-1 shootout loss to the Oilers. “Tomorrow is going to be the toughest one of these three because we spent something here in these last two games. It will be a good battle tomorrow.”

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele (left) tries to get his stick on the loose puck after Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko makes a save during the first period in Vancouver, Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam

The Canucks entered the game a desperate club. While Winnipeg had started to find its game in recent weeks, including points in 13 of the last 14 games (9-1-4), Vancouver entered Friday on a five-game losing streak. Questions had started to surface around whether there should be sweeping changes in the organization, including questions around the future of head coach Travis Green.

None of that seemed to matter on this night, though, as the Canucks battled the Jets to a 3-2 victory in front of 18,628 at Rogers Arena. Turns out, Maurice was right, even if he was satisfied with much of his team’s effort.

“I liked the game, but to play the game that we played – and not just because it was Edmonton, but we played hard and really, really well for six periods,” he said after the loss. “You know that you’re flying, and you know how long the bus trips are to both airports and you know what time you get to the hotel. It’s a 3 am body time for us (when they arrived in Vancouver), so I was actually really happy with it.”

Maurice added: “None of my concerns came true at the start of the game. We didn’t execute some things and we weren’t really, really sharp at some times and some plays died. Even some defensive things, where you close the gap a little harder and you close the play and it’s out. But with that, I’m really comfortable where that five-on-five game was, for the scenario that we had. I was alright with it.”

Thanks to a strong performance by the power play and solid goaltending from Thatcher Demko, who made 36 saves, the Canucks improved to 6-10-2. The Jets fell to 9-4-4 with the loss, which was also the second straight defeat with Eric Comrie between the pipes.

The Jets weren’t slow out of the gate, but they looked like a team that arrived in Vancouver from Edmonton in the early morning hours. Some sluggish play led to turnovers and costly penalties, the first of which was assessed to Jansen Harkins for a cross check on Nils Hoglander.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson made the Jets pay, scoring his second goal of the season at the 13:51 mark of the opening period to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. Ekman-Larsson’s shot from the point found its way through a crowd and behind Comrie.

Vancouver Canucks' Jason Dickinson (bottom) falls to the ice after getting hit by Winnipeg Jets' Logan Stanley during the second period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam

“You’re getting into areas where sometimes that’s a call and sometimes it’s not,” Jets centre Adam Lowry said. “Unfortunately, it was a call early and we weren’t able to kill it off and you get behind the eight ball, you spot a team a lead and it’s tough to come back in this league.”

Vancouver added to its lead 3:12 into the second period, with a goal that looked eerily like the first. Kyle Burroughs registered his first career NHL goal with a shot that once again found its way untouched from the blue line.

The Jets were provided a spark exactly one minute later with a highlight-reel goal from Nikolaj Ehlers. Ehlers gained the Canucks zone and with a spin off the boards, carried the puck into the slot before ripping a shot high glove past Demko for his sixth of the season and third in as many games.

But just as Winnipeg seemed to gain momentum, it tilted back in favour of Vancouver thanks to another successful power play. This time would be Conor Garland finding the back of the net, converting a pass near the left circle with a shot that beat Comrie far side.

The Canucks finished the night two-for-three on the man-advantage. The Jets were unable to draw single call on the night, making it the second time this season they’ve gone without a power play in a game.

“Oh, why do you do that to me?” Maurice said when asked if there’s a pattern when teams aren’t addressed a penalty. “There is absolutely nothing I can say tonight that benefits the Winnipeg Jets.”

Winnipeg would make it interesting in the final minutes, after Pierre-Luc Dubois banked a Mark Scheifele pass off his shin pad to cut the lead to 3-2 with 2:28 remaining in the third period. What followed was more action in front of the Canucks net, with Ehlers nearly tying the game with a tip that Demko narrowly saved with his left pad.

Vancouver Canucks' Kyle Burroughs (middle) celebrates with teammates Tyler Myers (left) and Elias Pettersson after scoring a goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam

“Thatcher’s a great goalie. If you don’t get eyes to him, he’s going to make great saves. I think we still had some time to get a little bit closer than we did, but that’s the difference,” Jets defenceman Nate Schmidt said.

“Tonight, if we had just an extra 10 minutes, I think we would have found that one.”

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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Updated on Saturday, November 20, 2021 1:19 AM CST: Adds photo

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