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Hellebuyck becomes franchise leader in shutouts in win over Canucks

The 26-year-old goaltender made 41 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season, 18th of his career

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - With their 10th consecutive win over the Vancouver Canucks - this one by a 4-0 score - the Winnipeg Jets (25-18-4) snapped their six-game home winless skid, thanks in large part to a 41-save performance from goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

But out of all those numbers, the zero in the goals against column might be what stands out the most to Hellebuyck - besides the two points in the standings, of course.

After all, that shutout was the 18th of his career, making the 26-year-old the franchise leader in that category.

"It's pretty exciting," said Hellebuyck. "That's definitely a milestone. I hope I get that puck."

Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck

Hellebuyck even had a chance at his first career goal after the Canucks pulled Jacob Markstrom with a little under five minutes to go in regulation, down 3-0.

The Jets goaltender came out of his crease to play a loose puck in front of the net, but his attempt was knocked down by a high stick before clearing the zone.

"That was pretty much the most perfect opportunity you'll ever get," Hellebuyck said with a grin. "It stops right there, I could skate up into it. The only problem was the puck turned on me a little bit. You'd like to be up by two and you'd like it to be in front of the net."

Even if Hellebuyck couldn't light the lamp, his teammates did more than enough in that department.

Kyle Connor scored twice - including the eventual game-winner just 1:22 into the game - and added an assist on a second period power play goal from Blake Wheeler. 

Jack Roslovic rounded out the scoring with his eighth goal of the season.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice didn't mind his goaltender trying to get in on the offence.

"I want him to take that chance, for sure," Maurice said. "The shutout is on him. If he steps up and feeds that thing up the middle and somebody knocks it down and it's not a high stick, then he can handle it. Better him than someone else. After the way he's played, he should have ownership of the way it ends."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

The Jets got the start they were looking for, as Mark Scheifele won an offensive zone draw, allowing Sami Niku to pinch down and fire a seam pass to Connor in the high slot. The Jets winger wasted no time in wiring it past Markstrom for his 23rd of the season and a 1-0 Jets lead.

"Usually we have a set play going to it, but it honestly just kind of happened," said Connor, who now has 11 points in seven career games against Vancouver. "He came down the wall and I found some space out the weak side. I was hoping he saw me. I didn't want to call for it and draw a defender or anything. It was a pretty incredible pass. I just tried to get it off quick."

Anthony Bitetto nearly made it 2-0 with his first as a Jet, but a coach's challenge from Vancouver took it off the board as the Jets were offside on the entry into the zone 16 seconds earlier.

But the Jets would get that second goal when Adam Lowry threaded a pass to Roslovic between Vancouver's defensive pair of Chris Tanev and Quinn Hughes, sending the Jets winger in alone. Roslovic picked the top right corner on Markstrom to make it 2-0.

A power play chance to start the second provided the opening to extend the lead. Wheeler's attempted pass from the right circle slid through Connor, who was screening Markstrom, and went under the pad of the Canucks goaltender to make it 3-0 Winnipeg.

Video: POSTGAME | Kyle Connor

"That start, we were clearly right. We were getting pucks to the net and doing it from a more direct mindset with the puck. I think it was good that there was the pay off," said Maurice, who liked his team's play through 40 minutes.

"What happened in that third period is we want it bad. It had been a while since we had won at home. We pulled off our forecheck, completely."

Vancouver (25-18-4) fired 14 shots toward Hellebuyck in the third period and even hit a couple posts along the way. Then Kyle Connor tapped home his 24th of the season into the empty net.

"I'm happy with the post. That's all I gave them," said Hellebuyck. "Last game I was good, but not good enough. You try to dig in and look for a little more. That doesn't mean changing anything in the game. It just means battling a little more, covering an extra rebound, trying to control everything you can."

Following that tough 1-0 loss to Nashville - where Hellebuyck made 31 saves - Maurice said he saw his goaltender do his best to find a way to be even better.

It's always nice when that work is rewarded.

"He made some fantastic saves. Then a big chunk of excellent technical work in terms of being in the right spot, working hard to be in the right spots. Then making some of them look far easier than they were," said Maurice. "I don't feel he was lucky. He was just outstanding."

ICE CHIPS

Dmitry Kulikov didn't play in the win over Vancouver due to the flu. That forced Carl Dahlstrom into the line-up, and the defenceman played 9:51 and recorded an assist before leaving the game himself with an upper-body injury.

Maurice said Dahlstrom will get re-evaluated but the Jets head coach doesn't think the defenceman's injury will be short term.

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