Call it a confidence builder.
Mark Scheifele, Drew Stafford and Mathieu Perreault combined for nine points as the Winnipeg Jets ended a six-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday at MTS Centre.
Scheifele and Stafford had two goals and one assist each.
Ondrej Pavelec was terrific between the pipes, stopping 29 shots in the win.
Daniel Sedin tallied the Canucks’ lone marker.
“There’s ebbs and flows to a hockey season,” Stafford said. “If you stick with it long enough, sooner or later you’ll get a break and things will swing.
“I’ve been through enough in the past few years. The way things were going in Buffalo before I came here, we were losing a lot and getting that taste again. That losing taste — it’s not fun. To be able to contribute as a line tonight, that’s huge.”
Forty-eight hours ago, after a tough loss to the St. Louis Blues, Head Coach Paul Maurice was confident his team was headed in the right direction. The quickness, pace and physicality with which the Jets have developed their reputation, was making a comeback.
They were close, but not quite there. Tonight was another step in the right direction.
“The streak is not blown out of proportion, that’s not what I’m trying to say,” Maurice said, “but there was some good at times. There was nothing good in the Nashville game. There was some real good in St. Louis, and some real good in Dallas. And now, with some solid hockey here, we have the opportunity here to focus on that. When you’re struggling, it’s a real hard thing to do.
“We dealt with what was ugly directly. But you’ve got to be able to focus on some positives, too. [Tonight helped] put us back in a positive frame of mind.”
After Canucks defenceman Luca Sbisa was penalized for an illegal check to the head of Nikolaj Ehlers, the Jets opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 5:55, snapping a 1-for-29 drought with the man advantage. Scheifele buried it, firing a shot under the arm of Ryan Miller after pouncing a loose puck at the left dot.
“It’s huge. I thought we played a solid 60-minute game,” Scheifele said. “We had a few lulls where they had a little bit of pressure, but I think we handled it (well) and it was a great game by all. … To be at home and to get a win, it was a big game for us. Definitely happy we got the W there.”
Credit Pavelec with the unofficial third assist on Scheifele’s goal, as he robbed Jannik Hansen with the right pad moments earlier on a shorthanded breakaway.
Ehlers left the game favouring his upper body, but returned soon after. Anthony Peluso took care of the rest after the penalty expired, feeding the Canuck in a spirited scrap, played to the roar of the 15,294 on hand.
“It’s great to get that (winning) feeling again,” Pavelec said. “It’s all about the confidence. We’ve got the skill, we’ve got the players. We know we can beat anybody.”
Shots on goal favoured the Canucks 13-11 after one period of play.
The Canucks levelled the score six-and-a-half minutes into the second, capitalizing on a questionable call to Toby Enstrom. With Bryan Little draped all over him, Sedin made the most of a goalmouth opportunity, wedging a shot top shelf as he fell to his knees.
Alex Burrows and brother Henrik picked up the assists.
Careless in their own end, the Canucks nearly coughed up the go-ahead goal to Chris Thorburn with under five to play. Intercepting a pass in the slot, the winger fired a shot from two feet out, but Miller was there, kicking out the right pad to preserve the 1-1 tie.
For the moment.
Stafford put the Jets in front with 2:31 to play, gathering his own rebound in tight and backhanding it over Miller after getting a piece of Enstrom point shot. The forward had gone 11 games without a goal or a point, but this – his sixth of the year– couldn’t have come a better time.
He was at it again early in the third – one-on-one with the goaltender – but his backhander sailed high and off the glass.
Scheifele put the Jets up by two at 17:15, potting a rebound left by Perreault at the doorstep. Then, with 1:34 on the clock, Stafford – who had a game-high eight shots on goal – iced it with an empty netter.
“I thought we had some great possession time tonight. (Perreault) is so shifty out there… I just try and get open. I had four or five great looks tonight and (Miller) made some great saves.”
With the win, the Jets improve to 9-9-2 on the year. The team is off Thursday before returning to practice on Friday morning at MTS Centre.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com