WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Nils Hoglander scored twice and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 Monday night.
Bo Horvat also scored and Thatcher Demko stopped 39 shots for his 14th win of the season for the Canucks. Vancouver was eliminated from the playoff race earlier in the night when Montreal earned a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to Edmonton to clinch fourth place in the North Division.
“Missing the playoffs, it’s never fun,” Horvat said. “That’s what you play for and that’s what you want to do every single year is get to the playoffs because anything can happen. … We’re going to learn from this experience.”
Being out of the race won’t change how Vancouver plays its last six games of the season, according to Demko.
“We want to win. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s about pride for our organization, pride for our teammates, coaches, staff,” he said. “You’re playing for a lot more than what people may think. We’re going to try to win every single time we get on the ice, no matter the situation.”
Kyle Connor scored for the Jets, who lost for the ninth time in 10 games. Laurent Brossoit finished with 28 saves.
“Not the result we wanted. It sucks,” said Connor, who has 23 goals on the season. “But nice to get one there and try to build some confidence going into the post-season here.”
The teams meet again on Tuesday in Winnipeg. The Jets hold a 5-3 lead in the nine-game season series.
Connor had a number of opportunities to add to Winnipeg’s total, including on a breakaway with less than seven minutes left on the clock. He powered into the Canucks zone and fired a shot at Demko, who made the save but couldn’t hold on to the rebound. Connor picked up the puck and unleashed another and this time Demko squeezed it between his pads as he fell over on to his back.
“We generated a whole heck of a lot more,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “The offensive part of our game looked right until the goalie stopped the puck.”
Hoglander opened the scoring 3:04 into the game, forcing Ville Heinola to turn the puck over at the Canucks blue line and streaking away for a breakaway. Brossoit stopped the initial blast but Hoglander picked up the rebound and popped in a backhand shot.
The Canucks made it 2-0 at 7:21 after Matthew Highmore sent the puck off the end boards. It ricocheted back to Horvat at the top of the crease and the Canucks’ captain riffled a shot in. Horvat celebrated with a double fist pump. The goal was his 17th of the season but first since April 18.
Connor cut Vancouver’s lead in half at 10:44, flicking a shot up and under the crossbar to make it 2-1. The goal snapped an eight-game point drought for Connor, who now has 23 goals on the season.
The Jets briefly appeared to even the score on a second-period power play after Vancouver’s J.T. Miller was called for slashing. The red goal light went off after a sharp-angle shot from Mark Scheifele hit Demko’s shoulder and the far post, but the on-ice official quickly and emphatically signaled no goal.
Hoglander restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead 10:16 into the third, picking up the puck in a flurry of neutral-zone traffic. He sprinted into the Jets end and appeared to be sending the puck to Brock Boeser at the front of the net when it bounced in past Brossoit off the arm of Winnipeg defenseman Josh Morrisey. It was the Swedish left-winger’s second goal of the night and his 12th of the season.
“I think I played great tonight,” Hoglander said. “I had a lot of chances. I think I can score more goals if I score on my opportunities.”
Canucks coach Travis Green agreed with the assessment, saying the 20-year-old had a strong game both offensively and in his own zone.
“He’s had a good season. He’s a good player, he’s got a bright future in the NHL and with our organization,” Green said. “But there’s been some learning curves for him, for sure, which we all expected.”
Winnipeg was 0 for 3 on the power play and Vancouver failed to capitalize on one man advantage.
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck is out with a “minor injury.” Eric Comrie backed up Brossoit.
SEEING A FAMILIAR FACE
Winnipeg’s Jordie Benn played his first game against his former team. The Canucks dealt the veteran defenseman to the Jets at the trade deadline for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft.