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Goalie Demko stands tall with 34 saves as Canucks beat Jets 4-3 in shootout

Vancouver wins third straight game under new coach Bruce Boudreau
Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser (6) dives to swat the puck away from Winnipeg Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Friday, December 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Elias Pettersson scored the lone goal in the shootout and the Canucks took a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Vancouver on Friday.

The Swedish centre deftly stick handled his way in, outwaiting Winnipeg’s Eric Comrie, then wrapping a shot around the outstretched goalie.

Nils Hoglander had a pair of goals for Vancouver (11-15-2), while Conor Garland also found the back of the net and Bo Horvat added a pair of assists.

Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had a goal and two assists for Winnipeg (13-9-5). Mark Scheifele also scored for the visitors, who blanked the Kraken 3-0 in Seattle on Thursday.

Thatcher Demko stopped 34-of-37 shots in regulation for the Canucks and Comrie had 33 saves in his first start since Nov. 19.

The result marks the first time this season Vancouver has won three games in a row. All three victories have come under Bruce Boudreau, who took over head coaching duties late Sunday night after the club fired Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning.

Both sides had stellar chances to put the game away in overtime, but Demko and Comrie each made magnificent saves.

Vancouver got an extra man for the final 49.6 seconds of extra time after Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers was called for tripping. The Canucks called a 30-second time out to scheme, but couldn’t get a puck past Comrie.

The two sides traded goals across the first two periods then locked in for a defensive battle across the third.

Winnipeg briefly appeared to take the lead 13:44 into the second when a puck slid into the Vancouver net off the skate of Andrew Copp. Vancouver challenged for goaltender interference, arguing a collision between Pierre-Luc Dubois and Demko had stopped the netminder from making the save. After video review, the goal was called back for goaltender interference.

The Jets evened the score at 3-3 minutes earlier when Connor slipped a pass through traffic to Scheifele’s tape, and the star centre blasted a one-timer that beat Demko stick side.

Garland registered Vancouver’s third goal of the night 7:06 into the frame.

J.T. Miller forced a turnover on a Winnipeg line change and sent the puck up the ice to Garland for a breakaway. The Canucks winger gave Comrie a head fake one way, then tucked a shot behind the goalie’s opposite skate.

Connor had scored 57 seconds earlier when he flipped a shot over Demko for his 18th goal of the season.

Hoglander gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead just 20 seconds before the end of the first.

Wheeler intercepted a pass from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers in the neutral zone and sped away for a breakaway, but Demko made the stop and sent the puck up ice to Horvat. The Canucks captain dished it off to Hoglander, who fired a shot that caught a piece of Comrie’s glove before dribbling in as the netminder desperately swiped at it with his stick.

Demko kept his team in the opening frame with a pair of highlight reel-worthy saves.

Connor uncorked a rocket from the high slot late in the frame and Demko mimicked an MLB catcher on the stop. A thud echoed throughout the rink as the speeding puck hit his glove, followed by a volley of cheers.

READ MORE: J.T. Miller scores shootout winner as Vancouver Canucks edge Boston Bruins 2-1

Midway through the period, the Canucks goalie robbed Wheeler, snatching a point-blank shot out of the air as he dove forward.

The Jets got a shot past Demko on a power play after Miller was called for cross checking.

Using a Dubois screen in front of the net, Wheeler blasted a wrist shot from inside the faceoff circle to knot the score at 1-1 at the 11:07 mark.

The Winnipeg captain celebrated his first goal of the season with an emphatic fist pump. He last scored on May 11 when the Jets beat the Canucks 5-0.

Winnipeg was 1 for 3 with the man advantage Friday. Vancouver went scoreless on two power plays.

The Canucks opened the scoring 6:29 into the game. Hoglander used some stealthy stick handling to get around Scheifele, putting the puck between his own legs before unleashing a backhanded shot from the hash marks.

The goal was Hoglander’s first in 12 games.

The Canucks continue their homestand Sunday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. The Jets have a brief reprieve before entertaining the Buffalo Sabres in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

NOTES: Wheeler extended his point streak to five games. He has one goal and nine assists across the stretch. … The Canucks (65.9 per cent) and Jets (68.4 per cent) came into Friday’s game with the two worst penalty kills in the league. … Vancouver placed defenceman Travis Hamonic on injured reserve Thursday and called Noah Juulsen up from the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks. Hamonic suffered a lower-body injury against Boston Wednesday and is expected to miss two to three weeks.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, THE CANADIAN PRESS

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