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This article was published 20/2/2021 (285 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There truly is no place like home for Laurent Brossoit.
The Winnipeg Jets backup goaltender served up another picture-perfect performance Friday night inside Rogers Arena, stopping all 29 shots he faced in a 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Winnipeg improves to 10-6-1, while Vancouver falls to 8-12-1.
Brossoit who is from nearby Port Alberni, B.C. has now made three appearances as an NHLer in Vancouver. And he has yet to give up a single goal, stopping all 88 pucks that have come his way.
The first was an October 2017 relief outing while a member of the Edmonton Oilers, in which he turned aside 19 shots. The second came in December 2018 when he registered his first NHL shutout, a 40-save outing in a 1-0 Jets victory. And now an eerily similar performance for his second career goose-egg.
"If there’s a city that I want to have those stats, it’s probably this one. I’ll take it," Brossoit, 27, said in a Zoom interview following the game. "(Shutouts) all feel good, especially when they’re in your hometown. This is just another game to add to a good start to our season."
The role of a back-up means limited playing time, and that’s especially true when your team’s No. 1 is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. But Jets coach Paul Maurice said before the game it was important to keep Brossoit sharp, while also finding the appropriate time to give Connor Hellebuyck a rest.
With the Jets only playing one more game before a home date next Thursday against Montreal, Maurice felt Friday night was the perfect time.
"We didn’t want to leave (Brossoit) too long because he’s gotta stay in a rhythm. When we get into March we’re going to need him to play a bunch of games for us. But it’s also a rhythm for Connor. I think three days for Connor is about perfect. If Connor had played (Friday) and Laurent the next game then we got a five day block. We really like where Connor is at so we want to try to keep him in the right kind of rhythm between games," Maurice explained.
This was just Brossoit’s fourth start of the year, and his first since a 3-2 victory over Calgary on Feb. 2 in which he made 29 saves. He is now 3-1-0 with a 2.25 goals-against-average and .935 save-percentage.
Brossoit was at his best during the second period, which included a pair of penalty kills by his club and a breakaway save — barely — off Canucks defenceman Nate Schmidt. He made the original stop, then reached back to smother the puck before it could trickle across the goal line.
"I felt fast today, and on that breakaway a little bit too fast. I overreacted a bit, I saw he was going blocker, I jammed my blocker out towards the puck and a little bit of an overreaction so it hit my armpit. I felt it drop and I just made sure I covered it up," said Brossoit.
At the other end of the ice, Winnipeg made the most of limited offensive chances, with Mark Scheifele’s first-period goal standing up as the winner.
Winnipeg’s top centre pounced on a loose puck at his own blue-line and went in all alone, beating Thatcher Demko with a backhanded beauty 7:25 into the game. It’s his ninth of the year, and extends his point streak to nine games, including goals in four straight.
"I saw a move that I couldn’t pull off, that’s for sure," Jets defenceman Neal Pionk said of Scheifele’s razzle-dazzle. "Mark’s an elite hockey player. That’s definitely right up his alley, the skill part. The other day in the hotel we were talking about hockey and some of the skill stuff, and a lot of the stuff went right over my head. He thinks about things that a lot of people don’t think about. It was a heck of a move that got us going in the right direction."
Mason Appleton added an empty-netter with just over a minute to play, matching a career-high with his fifth goal of the year. Pionk made a pair of terrific defensive plays to break up Vancouver scoring chances, then turned the play the other way for the insurance marker.
"Obviously it all started with LB, he made some big saves when we needed him to. But we shut it down, we had good sticks, we didn’t get a lot of second-chance opportunities," said Scheifele. "We knew going in it was going to be a tight-checking game, a defensive battle. It definitely lived up to those expectations."
Demko was rock-solid as well, making 29 saves on the night.
Maurice made one other lineup change for the game as veteran forward Nate Thompson returned from a lower-body injury. The 36-year-old, who skated in the first four games before missing the next 12, centred the fourth line between Jansen Harkins and Trevor Lewis. Kristian Vesalainen, 21, who had one assist in eight games, came out as a healthy scratch.
Centre Pierre-Luc Dubois missed a fourth straight game with a nagging lower-body injury, but Maurice said he could be an option for the re-match against the Canucks provided he gets through Saturday’s practice without issues. Dubois, who came over in the blockbuster trade for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, had to spend two weeks in quarantine before making his Jets debut. He had no points in two games before getting sidelined.
Winnipeg has yet to lose two straight games in regulation this season, now going 5-0-1 immediately after a loss.
"LB was excellent. Obviously our best player. He’s got one of the harder jobs in the league because he knows Bucky (Hellebuyck) is going to get most of the games. He comes in and he’s been ready to play this year. It’s awesome," said Pionk.
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.