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game recap

Hellebuyck makes 37 saves for Jets in exhibition win against Canucks

Wheeler has goal, assist in Cup Qualifiers tuneup; Ehlers leaves game in third

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

Hellebuyck's stop on Boeser

VAN@WPG: Hellebuyck turns away Boeser on breakaway

Brock Boeser motors down the ice on a breakaway and fires from his backhand, but Connor Hellebuyck keeps up with him for the save

  • 00:16 •

Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves, and the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 in an exhibition game at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday.

Hellebuyck, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie, played the entire game for the Jets.

"I thought it was great, being able to get to that playoff battle mentality and that battle level," said Hellebuyck, who made 14 saves in the third period and lost his shutout when Antoine Roussel scored with 6:47 remaining. "So this game was not just an exhibition for me, it was getting that battle intensity up. … I needed to push into that third period and get that battle level to not go into recovery mode, to realize there was a whole other period left and I think tonight was great for that."

Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom allowed three goals on 33 shots in his first game since having knee surgery Feb. 26. He missed the last eight games before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

"I thought it went better the longer it went," Markstrom said. "It's nice to be out there. It's been a while, but it was nice to be out there. I felt like the longer the game went, more details and stuff like that start to fall into place. … It was nice to be back and nice to feel that it got better and better the longer the game went on."

Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers, who scored at 14:54 of the second, left the game after two shifts in the third period.

"Tonight was 100 percent precautionary, so we've got lots of confidence," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said of Ehlers returning for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. "He wanted to play and he wanted to push it for as long as he could, and then we got to a point where he was still feeling good, but we weren't going to let it go any longer. I've got lots of confidence of him being in practice, full out, in two days."

Video: Hellebuyck, Wheeler help lead Jets past Canucks

Winnipeg, the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference, will face the Calgary Flames, the No. 8 seed, in a best-of-5 qualifier series in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city, beginning Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, CBC, SN). The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Connor was outstanding tonight; he looks like he hasn't missed a beat," said Jets captain Blake Wheeler, who had a goal and an assist. "I think our group felt good. … Tonight was a good step for us.

"There were a few bumps there tonight and obviously when the playoffs start, that's going to ramp up on both sides, so I think that would be the only thing that's missing. Our group, we've been through the battles already over the last couple of years. We know what this playoff intensity feels like, so we're prepared for that."

Vancouver, the No. 7 seed in the West, will face the Minnesota Wild, the No. 10 seed, beginning Sunday at Rogers Place (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, FS-N, FS-WI).

"I think we're as ready as we can be," Canucks coach Travis Green said. "We just had one exhibition game. I think we can probably do a better job of putting 60 minutes together. … I thought we played a pretty decent game. I think we're going to be better in the next game than we were today. Winning or losing this game doesn't get you any further."

Vancouver forward Micheal Ferland was held without a point in his first game since Dec. 10; he missed the final 55 games before the pause because of recurring concussion symptoms.

"He's so big (6-foot-1, 217 pounds), strong, loves playing in the playoffs, loves playing in this type of hockey and I thought he was good tonight," Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. "He was hitting guys, skating with the puck, creating chances. He's going to be really valuable for us going forward here." staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report

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