VANCOUVER - Pierre-Luc Dubois said on Sunday morning he's never been more ready to play a hockey game, as he was set to return after missing the last four games due to a lower-body injury.
He wasn't kidding.
The 22-year-old scored his first as a member of the Winnipeg Jets in the second period, assisted on Neal Pionk's power play goal in the third period, then buried the overtime winner for good measure as the Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 to close out a four-game road trip.
"It felt good. My game still isn't where I know it can be. I can improve on a lot of things - timing, execution, reads, stuff like that, Dubois said.
"(Scheifele) and (Wheeler) made it easy for me at times, helped me out when I was making wrong reads. But it felt good to be back out there with them."
Dubois played on the left wing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler in his return, and the trio combined for nine points as the Jets turned a 2-0 deficit through 20 minutes into victory.
The overtime winner, where Dubois held off a check from Brock Boeser before lifting it top corner on Braden Holtby, came 27 seconds into extra time with the Jets using three forwards in the three-on-three format.
"In overtime, one team is going to score. It's a matter of time. You may as well try to be the first one to get that shot," said Dubois, who said the play started back in the Jets zone with Wheeler separating his man from the puck.
"I heard 3-on-2. I didn't want to just go out there and skate full speed to the net," he said. "I saw it was a forward coming at me in a one-on-one situation with the forward skating backwards. Worst case scenario, I was going to try that move."
Video: WPG@VAN: Dubois beats defender and roofs OT winner
Dubois finished the night with 16:48 of ice time and while head coach Paul Maurice plans to play Dubois at centre, he likes to have options.
"He's a centre, we need him to be a centre going forward. But we certainly liked it tonight," said Maurice. "I don't have him as a long time winger, but it's a good way to introduce a guy to your systems, and he helps you win while it's going on… He's still a young man. I liked it tonight."
Of course, before the triumph came the adversity.
Vancouver built a 2-0 first period lead on goals from Brandon Sutter and Elias Pettersson to put the Jets in a hole early.
Video: WPG@VAN: Pionk blisters go-ahead goal on power play
It was part of a first period that saw the Canucks outshoot Winnipeg 17-9.
"We didn't steer away from our game," said Scheifele. "Being down two, we didn't try to do too much and didn't try to spread the game out. We got more o-zone time, we got more shots from the point. We got in front of Holtby and it paid off. We kept chipping away. It was a great win by us."
It stayed that way until 14:23 into the second when the trio of Dubois, Scheifele, and Wheeler got things going.
Scheifele and Wheeler won a puck battle below the goal line, then the Jets captain spotted Dubois in space to Braden Holtby's left and wasted no time in putting it on Dubois' tape. Dubois made no mistake for his second goal of the season.
"Tonight, to finally get out there and play, then get that nice pass from Wheels and score, it felt good," said Dubois. "It felt like a weight off my shoulder. Then you have the rest of the game to keep applying that pressure and keep getting better."
The assist extended Scheifele's point streak to 10 games, which ties his career high. He has 14 points in that span.
"A really great job by Mark on the first one, he kept the play alive," said Wheeler. "I had (Dubois) going back door the first time around and missed him. Mark jumped in there and kept the play alive. We got a second crack at it and Dubie made a great shot to score."
Video: WPG@VAN: Wheeler sets up Dubois' first goal with Jets
In the third period, Scheifele made sure to extend another streak and tie the game at the same time.
He took a pass from Wheeler in the neutral zone and fired a shot from the right wing that squeaked through Holtby's legs and was inadvertently tapped over the line by Canucks defenceman Nate Schmidt.
The goal pushed Scheifele's streak of consecutive games with a goal to five. It was also his 10th of the season, tying him for the team lead with Nikolaj Ehlers.
After a big penalty kill, the Jets were handed a power play of their own and they made it count. With 9:27 left in the third, Dubois teed one up for Pionk, who blasted his third of the season to put the Jets up 3-2.
The goal was also Pionk's 100th career NHL point.
"He's an awesome hockey player," Wheeler said of Pionk. "A guy that you'd consider undersized, but he doesn't play undersized. He'll run into anyone at full speed and makes incredible plays with the puck. He's shown an ability to bury an open opportunity. The more opportunities we get a guy like him, the more success we're going to have."
Video: WPG@VAN: Scheifele follows up rebound to tie the game
Vancouver would tie it on a late power play with Pettersson's second of the game, this one a one-timer blast from the right circle with 38 seconds left.
The power play was the third the Canucks had in the final period. Pettersson had come close, hitting the cross bar, earlier in the period, but cashed in with Josh Morrissey in the penalty box and Holtby on the bench for an extra attacker.
Wheeler said the Jets weren't thrown off by the late goal.
"We've had a couple unfortunate situations this year in that we've lost games in incredible fashion. You don't see that very often in the NHL," said Wheeler. "You take those losses out of the books and our record is right up there eat the top of the league. We like the way we're playing in the third period. We seem to be firing on all cylinders in that period."
That set the stage for Dubois' heroics in the overtime, a moment that Maurice felt was richly deserved.
"I'm happy for him," said Maurice. "It's great that the Jets win but this is a young man who has been through an awful lot. He's done everything right here. His shift length, his work ethic, all things."
Tucker Poolman left the game after the second period and didn't return.
"There was no mechanism of injury. There wasn't an event that happened on the ice," said Maurice. "He didn't feel he could continue in the third. It's upper-body. We'll see how he is in a couple days."