Even without forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Nate Schmidt, the Winnipeg Jets had little trouble in defeating the host Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
The Jets will try win both ends of their road trip when they visit the Seattle Kraken on Sunday.
“That’s Winnipeg Jets hockey,” said Kyle Connor, who had a goal and an assist in the 5-1 win against the Canucks. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all year. Next man up. Everybody do their job.
“(That’s a) great response from everybody. We needed help from everybody (Saturday), top to bottom. Like you saw on the score sheet, everybody contributed.”
Sam Gagner had a goal and an assist, and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and defensemen Kyle Capobianco and Neal Pionk also scored. Pierre-Luc Dubois notched three assists, and Connor Hellebuyck made 22 saves to improve to 16-7-1 this season.
It was the second consecutive victory for the Jets, who have won nine of their past 12 games.
“I love to see it,” Hellebuyck said. “I love to see the guys succeed, especially with how hard they’ve been playing and how hard they’ve been working for me. I’m so excited for them.”
Jets coach Rick Bowness said Saturday his team will be without Wheeler (lower-body injury) for about a month and Schmidt (upper body) for four to six weeks.
“It’s always hard going through injuries, but this is what you want out of your team,” Hellebuyck said. “I thought we brought our pace, and every single guy brought their A-game (Saturday). Our details were right, they were battling so hard, and we were controlling the game.”
The Kraken return home following a 1-3-0 road trip.
“We knew what this stretch looked like,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We’re disappointed to go home with two points out of the eight (possible) points.”
Seattle has lost five of its past six games after a 12-1-1 stretch.
The Kraken will get Jamie Oleksiak back after he served a three-game NHL suspension for an illegal check to the head Dec. 9 on Washington’s Alexander Alexeyev.
Fellow defenseman Justin Schultz rejoined the team at practice Saturday after missing the past two games for undisclosed reasons.
“I’m not trying to overthink things. Just going to go out there, keep playing my game, keep playing physical,” Oleksiak said. “Do what I can to help the boys win.
“You just wish you could be in the trenches, battling with them. I think we did a good job, considering, but obviously not getting the results.”
The Kraken will look to improve on their league-worst 44.4 percent faceoff percentage.
“It’s definitely not fun to look at,” Seattle center Morgan Geekie said. “Everyone knows it’s an important stat — obviously good faceoff teams start with the puck more, and it leads to more chances. I’m not too worried about it. Everyone’s working on it.”
This will be the second meeting of the season between the teams.
The Jets won 3-2 at Seattle on Nov. 13 after Mark Scheifele scored 54 seconds into overtime. That goal came after Wheeler scored on the power play with six seconds remaining in regulation.
–Field Level Media