Recap: Canucks at Jets 4.18.24

WINNIPEG -- Nikita Chibrikov scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period in his NHL debut, and the Winnipeg Jets ended the regular season with their eighth straight win, 4-2 against the Vancouver Canucks at Canada Life Centre on Thursday.

“It's like the dream, which you start from the first steps on the ice and live with this every day,” Chibrikov said. “[My family is] watching online from Russia because it's really hard to travel now. It’s, I think, 30 hours the flight.”

Chibrikov, who was selected in the second round (No. 50) of the 2021 NHL Draft, gave the Jets a 3-2 lead at 5:18 of the third. He scored blocker side from the bottom of the right circle off a pass from Nino Niederreiter from below the goal line. The play started after Chibrikov stole the puck from Thatcher Demko behind the net.

“Nino made a [great] look for me and (I) just tried to make a shot for the open space here,” Chibrikov said. “First emotion is like, I don't know, like something you couldn't believe for this. From the next shift, you’re [thinking about] what you did. Yeah, it’s really good. Unbelievable.”

VAN@WPG: Chibrikov sends a nasty wrister in for first career goal

Cole Perfetti scored his second goal of the game into an empty net at 17:55 for the 4-2 final.

Gabriel Vilardi also scored, and Laurent Brossoit made 18 saves for the Jets (52-24-6). Brad Lambert, who was also making his NHL debut, had an assist.

“Lambert and Chibrikov, those two kids step in and they look good,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “It’s a good game for them to break into because they didn’t have their A squad out there, and we didn’t, but they were able to get some ice time. We weren’t matching lines, we were just throwing four lines out there and they really felt comfortable out there.”

Because Brossoit allowed fewer than three goals, Connor Hellebuyck won the William M. Jennings Trophy, which is presented annually to the goaltenders who play a minimum of 25 games for the team that allows the fewest goals during the regular season.

“The goaltending has been exceptional,” Bowness said. “The players have bought right back in and have turned it right around. To play the way we play, it’s heart. It’s no question, it’s heart. It’s frustrating to play against, and I think our players take great pride when they’re talking to their friends in the League. ... I think that’s extra motivation for our players. It all comes from them. They’re committed to it.”

Conor Garland had a goal and an assist, and Elias Lindholm also scored for the Canucks (50-23-9), who had their four-game point streak end (3-0-1). Demko made 22 saves.

“Obviously, we were missing some big players, but I thought we were decent and I think everyone is looking forward to the playoffs,” Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes said. “It’s obviously not the easiest game to get up for. You’re looking forward to the Playoffs, you don't want to get injured, you want to take care of yourself, but I thought for the most part we came out unscathed. Everyone deserves the next week and a half, two weeks, whatever, we’re going to play with Nashville (in the Western Conference First Round).”

VAN@WPG: Garland records game-opener off his skate for his 20th this season

Garland gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 5:22 of the first period. Dakota Joshua couldn't control a pass from Lindholm, and the puck slid across the crease before deflecting in off Garland's leg.

Vilardi tied it 1-1 at 11:26, picking up a loose puck along the goal line and waiting out Demko before lifting a shot over the sprawled goaltender.

Lambert, who was selected in the first round (No. 30) of the 2022 NHL Draft, had the secondary assist on the play.

“[I didn’t know] at first, not until they [announced it],” Lambert said. “I just figured maybe I didn’t get one on it, but it felt good when they announced it.

“Dream come true, for sure. Unbelievable feeling yesterday when I figured out that I was going to play. It didn’t feel real at first. And then getting here and experiencing this along with [Chibrikov] and all these guys made it so special. To be able to get a win as well feels awesome.”

VAN@WPG: Vilardi controls the puck around the crease and whips it in

Perfetti scored 55 seconds into the second period to put the Jets ahead 2-1. He beat Demko glove side from the high slot on a 3-on-1.

“Thatcher is the last guy I'm worried about,” Hughes said. "He made some massive saves tonight and he’s going to make some big saves throughout the series (against Nashville).”

Lindholm tied it 2-2 at 17:11 of the second, redirecting Hughes' point shot on a power play.

"Now the big time. The big prize now is playing on Sunday,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said. “Really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun time for the guys, and I want them to enjoy it. We’ve got some work to do in the next two, three days to prepare, and it’s going to be exciting.”

NOTES: Garland's goal was his 20th of the season. He is the fifth Canucks player to reach the mark this season. The last time Vancouver had at least five players score 20 goals in a season was 2009-10 (six). ... Chibrikov is the seventh player in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history to score a goal in his NHL debut. He also had a game-high five hits. ... Winnipeg allowed 199 goals this season, one fewer than the Florida Panthers. ... The Jets' eight-game winning streak is tied for the longest in their history. They also won eight straight earlier this season (Dec. 30 to Jan. 11).

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