- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Winnipeg Jets’ top line wasn’t going to be denied against the same opponent for a second consecutive game.

Nikolaj Ehlers had two goals and an assist, Patrik Laine also scored and the Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday night.

Ehlers, Laine and Mark Scheifele were held off the scoresheet in Vancouver’s 4-1 victory at Rogers Arena on Tuesday, but the young trio took it upon themselves to drag their club back into the win column in a rematch played 48 hours later thanks to a quirk in the NHL schedule.

“We didn’t play the game we’ve been playing over the course of the season,” Ehlers said. “We needed to change that. Our line knew that, the whole team knew that.”

Bryan Little had the other goal for the Jets, and Scheifele picked up an assist as Winnipeg (16-17-3) rebounded from an opening 20 minutes that looked a lot like Tuesday’s disappointing performance.

“First period, we were trying to find our legs,” said Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson, who finished with 22 saves. “After that, the second and third period we really took it to them. We found that extra gear. It was nice to watch.”

Markus Granlund scored for Vancouver (14-17-3), and Ryan Miller stopped 21 shots.

“We started getting a little bit too cute through the neutral zone,” Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows said. “We turned pucks over, we didn’t get it deep, we didn’t get in on the forecheck. We beat ourselves.”

With the Jets trailing 1-0 late in the second, Laine got his team on the board when the rookie scoring leader buried his 19th of the season short side on a feed off the rush from Ehlers with 42.5 seconds left on the clock.

“I like to score from everywhere; I don’t care,” Laine said. “That was a good play from us and an important goal.”

Ehlers gave Winnipeg its first lead 1:23 into the third period after knocking down a pass from Canucks captain Henrik Sedin in the Winnipeg zone and racing the other way. The speedy Jets wing moved in on a 2-on-1, using Scheifele as a decoy before ripping his eighth past Miller.

“He’s an amazing kid,” the 18-year-old Laine said of the 20-year-old Ehlers. “I haven’t seen a guy who can skate like that. He has really good hands and like everybody saw, he can also score. It’s nice to be on the same line.”

Vancouver had a good chance on a power play a few minutes later, but Hutchinson snagged Sven Baertschi’s shot with his glove.

The Jets took a two-goal lead with 7:36 left on a man advantage of their own after the Canucks were penalized for too many men on the ice. Ehlers took a pass at the side of the net and walked out in front before roofing his second of the night over Miller’s shoulder.

Ehlers fed Laine from the same spot earlier in the power play, but the young sniper was stopped.

“I tried to put it backdoor to Patrik first, but he didn’t want to score,” Ehlers deadpanned with Laine listening to his answer. “I knew the defenseman was going to cheat a little bit, and I just did it myself.”

Little made it 4-1 with his fifth at 15:43 on a goal that stood after a video review and a subsequent Vancouver challenge for goalie interference.

Winnipeg, which improved to 6-11-2 on the road, has won three of four heading into the Christmas break.

The Canucks, meanwhile, wrapped up a 2-1-1 homestand.

With the Canucks leading in the second, things got physical when Laine laid out Sedin with a clean check before Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault took a run at Jannik Hansen later in the shift. Perreault was given 2 minutes for kneeing and 2 minutes for roughing after the ensuing scrum, while Hansen was assessed a minor for roughing.

But of more concern to the Canucks was that Hansen lasted just 11 seconds on his next shift before hobbling to the bench and being helped to the locker room favoring his right leg. The veteran wing, who did not return and was limping after the game, didn’t think the injury was serious, but has an MRI scheduled for Friday.

“It’s a dirty hit for sure,” said Sedin, who played the 1,200th game of his career. “It’s something we can’t have in this league.”

The Canucks opened the scoring 3:54 into the game when Loui Eriksson intercepted Jacob Trouba’s pass behind the Winnipeg net and found Granlund, who roofed his seventh from the top of the crease past Hutchinson.

It was only the 14th first-period goal Vancouver has scored this season, and just the ninth time in 34 games that the Canucks have opened the scoring.

But that came as little comfort.

“We kept their top line pretty much to zero points for five periods,” Sedin said. “Then the last shift of the second … they score. All of a sudden they have life.”

NOTES: The Jets got two power plays in quick succession midway through the first period, but the NHL’s 26th-ranked unit failed to register a shot on either Vancouver penalty.

UP NEXT

Jets: Tuesday at Chicago.

Canucks: Friday night at Calgary.

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