By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Bruce Boudreau had two big reasons to be happy after the Vancouver Canucks snapped a three-game winless skid with a 5-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
The Vancouver coach was glad to see J.T. Miller fill the net with his second career hat trick. He was also pleased goaltender Spencer Martin didn’t let that happen behind his crease and earned his first career victory.
“It’s great for him,” Boudreau said of Martin’s first win in his third game with Vancouver, and sixth overall. “I think that’s three outstanding games he’s played for us in a row.
“I can’t be happier. He kept us in there and he got points in every game for us. I think it’s the makings of a really good goalie.”
Martin, who also played three games for Colorado in 2016-17, made 33 saves to extended Winnipeg’s winless streak to a season-high six games.
He had stopped 47 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss to Edmonton earlier in the week and was also in net when the Canucks lost 2-1 in overtime to Florida. Vancouver goalies had been hit with COVID-19, including Martin.
“It’s incredibly special, and just even to get an opportunity to play and having it go well and get a win, I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet,” said Martin, 26, of Oakville, Ont. “But hopefully we just keep building off it. It’s a really special day for me.”
Miller scored once on the power play and twice at even strength for the Canucks (19-19-5), giving him a team-leading 15 goals on the season. He also added an assist.
“J.T., he drove the bus early on,” Boudreau said. “He got the first three.
“He could have had two more, I thought. When he got his third, I thought he could have had five goals. Went in front of the net, got the assist on the fourth one.”
The 10-year veteran’s first hat trick was March 13, 2018, when he played with the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 7-4 win over Ottawa.
Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists and Elias Pettersson contributed a goal and assist for the Canucks, who were 0-1-2 coming into the game. Luke Schenn had two assists as the team opened a four-game road trip that continues Saturday in Calgary.
Andrew Copp scored for the Jets (17-16-7), who are 0-4-2 in their last six outings.
Making his 13th straight start for Winnipeg, Connor Hellebuyck, stopped 28 shots before 250 fans allowed at Canada Life Centre because of local COVID-19 health orders.
“Just need to be a little bit better everywhere,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “Those little things are adding up right now.
“We’re just a little bit late to everything right now and it’s hurting us.”
The victory gave Vancouver a three-game sweep in its season series against Winnipeg.
Miller and Copp scored in the first period. Miller then added two more in the second for the 3-1 lead.
Vancouver capitalized quickly on the game’s first penalty. Miller sent a one-timer past Hellebuyck just 10 seconds into the man advantage at 13:23 for his 13th goal of the season.
“It was just a weird game,” Miller said. “It felt a little like three-on-three, which is kind of good and bad because you’re typically getting a look but they’re going back the other way.
“The puck just kind of followed me around today and I got lucky a couple went in.”
Copp tied it up at 15:32 of the first, but Miller made it 2-1 at 5:25 of the second and added his third goal at 12:55.
Boeser scored seven seconds into Vancouver’s second man advantage off a rebound at 1:08 of the third. Pettersson fired in a high shot at 14:00.
“We’re not the first team that has faced this kind of situation,” Winnipeg interim coach Dave Lowry said. “We just will continue to work.
“We’ll work for our bounces, we’ll work for our breaks and win a hockey game”
The Jets, who were 0-for-3 on the power play, head out for a two-game road trip starting Saturday in St. Louis.
Notes – Jets forward Adam Lowry, son of coach Lowry, played in his 500th NHL game … Winnipeg defenceman Johnny Kovacevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., made his NHL debut – the fourth Jet this season to reach that dream … Vancouver forward Conor Garland and goalies Jaroslav Halak and Thatcher Demko were removed from COVID-19 health and safety protocols earlier in the day. Garland was on the ice and Halak backed up Martin. Demko was meeting the team in Calgary.