By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Mark Scheifele was not going to let an undisclosed illness keep him down.
Scheifele led the way with a hat trick as the Winnipeg Jets snapped a three-game losing skid with a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. It was his second hat trick of the year and seventh of his career.
“You’ve just got to grind through it, that’s the name of the game,” said Scheifele. “Just battle through it, try to get through the game, and then try to rest as much as you can. I try to do as much as I can to make sure my body’s primed for every game.”
Pierre-Luc Dubois also scored, while Kyle Connor and defenceman Josh Morrissey had two assists apiece.
“A night like tonight, (Scheifele’s) looking at me like he wants to be out there,” said Jets coach Rick Bowness. “He’s feeling it and he looked at me a couple of times, and I said ‘OK, you go.’ When a player is feeling it, you let them go.”
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 20-of-22 shots for Winnipeg (22-13-1) before a sellout crowd of 15,325 fans at Canada Life Centre. The Jets are now 13-6-0 at home.
“It was a big win,” Scheifele said. “Guys battled right to the end.”
Conor Garland and Andrei Kuzmenko scored for the Canucks, who had their three-game win streak stifled.
Collin Delia made 35 saves for Vancouver (16-16-3).
Garland pulled the Canucks within one 13:11 into the third period. He grabbed a rebound off the boards behind the net, then banked a shot in off Hellebuyck.
But Scheifele put the game away with an empty netter as 28 seconds remained in the contest.
The Jets took a 3-1 lead into the third period after scoring three unanswered goals and outshooting Vancouver 19-6 in the second.
“We started strong and probably caught them a little off guard there,” said Vancouver centre Curtis Lazar. “But as the game got going, they elevated and we didn’t. We weren’t able to match it.
“As you could see throughout the game, it just wasn’t there. Again, it’s a good hockey club. They work hard. It’s the fundamentals. We have got to bear down and find ways to alter the pace and momentum of the game.”
Scheifele scored his second power-play goal of the night when his shot trickled through Delia with 2.5 seconds left in the frame.
Dubois put the Jets ahead when he was awarded a penalty shot after being taken down by Canucks defenceman Ethan Bear. Dubois beat Delia cleanly at the 15:42 mark.
With Lane Pederson off for tripping, Scheifele deflected Morrissey’s slap shot from the blue line past Delia at 13:52 of the second.
“We started to focus a little too much on defence and not on offence at all,” said Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau. “The last five minutes (of the second period), they started to gain some momentum and they’re a good shutdown team, and they’ve got a good goalie.”
The Canucks drew first blood just 41 seconds into game, taking advantage of a horrendous giveaway by Dylan Samberg in his own end.
The Jets defenceman sent the puck to Elias Pettersson, who dished it to Kuzmenko. The left-winger promptly fired one past Hellebuyck for his 15th of the season.
NOTES: Morrissey left the game after a hit from Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers in the third period. He did not return to play … Winnipeg forward Sam Gagner celebrated his 1,000th NHL game on Thursday. He wore the number 1000 on his jersey during the pre-game warm-up … The injury-riddled Jets called up forward Kristian Reichel from their Manitoba Moose AHL affiliate, but he did not dress for Thursday’s game.
Jets: Will play the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday.
Canucks: Will play the Flames in Calgary on Saturday.