The Canucks topped the host Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Monday but the victory wasn’t enough to keep Vancouver’s faint playoff hopes alive.
The Canucks (21-26-3) were officially eliminated from the playoff race earlier in the day when the Montreal Canadiens clinched the North Division’s fourth and final spot with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
Rookie forward Nils Hoglander scored twice for Vancouver on Monday, and Bo Horvat added another strike, blasting in a shot from the top of the crease midway through the first period.
Kyle Connor had the lone goal for the Jets (28-23-3), who have lost nine of their last 10 outings. Thatcher Demko had 39 saves and collected his 14th win of the season for Vancouver. Winnipeg’s Laurent Brossoit stopped 28-of-31 shots.
Vancouver remains at the bottom of the all-Canadian division with six games left on the schedule. The Jets sit in third and have clinched a playoff spot.
Connor had a number of opportunities to add to Winnipeg’s goal total on Monday, 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.
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 defenceman Josh Morrisey to seal the score at 3-1.
It was the Swedish left-winger’s second goal of the night and his 12th of the season.
The Jets briefly appeared to even the score at 2-2 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.
Winnipeg was 0 for 3 on the power play and Vancouver failed to capitalize on one man advantage.
Connor cut Vancouver’s lead in half 10:44 into the opening frame, 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 Canucks got a two-goal lead 7:21 into the first 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.
Hoglander opened the scoring 3:04 into Monday’s 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 Jets and Canucks will meet again on Tuesday in Winnipeg. The Jets hold a 5-3 lead in the nine-game season series.
NOTES: Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck is out with a “minor injury.” Eric Comrie backed up Brossoit on Monday. … Winnipeg’s Jordie Benn played his first game against his former team. The Canucks dealt the veteran defenceman to the Jets at the trade deadline for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. … Vancouver looks poised to give another prospect ice time before the end of the season, calling 22-year-old forward Will Lockwood up from the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets on Sunday.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
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