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Hellebuyck strong, but Canucks top Jets

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

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PENTICTON, BC – The Winnipeg Jets are still searching for their first win at the
2015 Young Stars Classic.

Mike Zalewski and Reid Gardiner broke a 1-1 tie with back-to-back goals early in the third period, Hunter Shinkaruk added one late, and goaltender Jackson Whistle made 17 saves as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Jets 4-1 Sunday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Jared McCann also scored in the Vancouver victory.

Josh Morrissey had the lone Jets marker, while Connor Hellebuyck – who played the full 60 minutes – recorded 38 saves in
the loss.

“We chased Vancouver around for a good portion of the game,” Manitoba Moose Head Coach Keith McCambridge said. “If you can’t make that first pass or be available for that first pass, you’re going to spend the whole night defending.”

The Jets were outshot 17-4 in the third period.

“The way the third period went I think was a direct result of fatigue,” McCambridge said. “There was a stretch in the second period where there was a minute and 45 (seconds) of not being able to get out. That wears guys down. And when you’re chasing and coming from behind all the time, there’s a tendency as you move along in the game to cheat a little bit more and eventually it comes back to cost you.”

Late in the first period, Canucks forward Jordan Subban drilled Nikolaj Ehlers with a dangerous hit from behind, propelling the star prospect head first into the boards. Quick to the scene, Brendan Lemieux hurled off the mitts and answered back, furiously swinging before the officials put an
end to the brief melee.

“He’s a great friend on and off the ice, so it feels very good to know that you have a guy like him to back you up when stuff like that happens,” Ehlers said.

Nic Petan had a glorious chance to open the scoring late in the opening 20, but his bid on a partial break was kicked away by Jackson Whistle.

McCann gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead with 5:34 left in the second period. Racing in on his off wing, the 2014 first-round pick rifled a shot under the arm of Hellebuyck, capitalizing on one of the
many odd-man opportunities in the period.

But the Jets answered back in a hurry. With a pair of Vancouver defencemen (Ashton Sautner and Tate Olson) serving time for separate infractions, Morrissey levelled the count with a point shot that deflected off a Canucks defender and in.

“I thought today was a lot better [than Friday],” Morrissey said. “It’s tough for everyone, being the first couple games of the year and the first games together as a group. I thought we’ve competed hard, but we’ve got to get a lot more pucks to the net that we did tonight.

“I think we’ve improved. Everyone seemed a lot more comfortable today.”

The Canucks extended to a 25-15 shot advantage through two periods of play, but the game remained in a 1-1 draw heading into the third.

Hellebuyck shone, thriving with a heavier workload.

“He was making things look easy,” McCambridge said. “He gave us a chance to stay in the game.”

“I feel good,” Hellebuyck added. “I don’t feel that I’m 100 percent ready (for the season), but I feel like I’m going to get there within a couple practices. That’s what pre-season’s for and you’ve always got to shake out a little bit of rust.”

Thirty-four seconds into the final frame, Zalewski put the Canucks back on top, depositing the puck into the empty net amid a flurry of activity in front. The Canucks took their first two-goal lead of the night at 2:37 as Gardiner’s wraparound try redirected off the skate of Brennan Serville past Hellebuyck.

Shinkaruk’s empty-netter sealed a 4-1 Vancouver win with 1:59 to play.

-- Ryan Dittrick, 

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