NHL Hockey

Jets host Canucks as No. 2 team in Central Division

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets celebrated the end of their bye week by winning in a shootout -- for just the second time this year -- with a 2-1 victory over the red-hot Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Despite their lofty status in the Central Division -- the Jets sit in second place with 61 points -- the Winnipeggers have one of the worst overtime records in the entire NHL. They have yet to win in six games decided in the extra period so there were probably a few sighs of relief among the Jets Nation when the buzzer went after five minutes of scoreless three-on-three play.

Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little scored in the skills competition to give the Jets a 2-1 record in shootouts this season while Connor Hellebuyck stopped both shooters he faced -- plus 30 of 31 shots in the previous 65 minutes -- to post his 24th victory of the season.

"We didn't lose in (overtime)," Wheeler told The Winnipeg Free Press. "So it's a step in the right direction. We've talked about it a little bit. With the amount of skill we have and the amount of ice out there, it should be a real advantage for us playing three-on-three."

While the Jets' power play has garnered the majority of the headlines this year, their penalty killing unit has been slowly gaining momentum. They went four-for-four against the Flames, improving their efficiency to 81.8 percent, just outside of the top 10.

Coach Paul Maurice told The Free Press that there's still lots of room for improvement, but he likes what he's been seeing of late.

"Our PK's been good. I haven't felt, even in the games that we've given up a goal, that we've been that far off it. Connor was a real important part of that. That's where he had to do his heaviest work," he said.

The Canucks come to town on the heels of a 5-2 loss to the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday night, a game in which they trailed for 50 minutes after giving up the opening goal less than 90 seconds after the opening face-off.

"We were chasing the game right from the get-go," Canucks head coach Travis Green told The Vancouver Province. "You're playing a different game when you're chasing the game."

The good news is they could welcome Bo Horvat back to their line-up against Winnipeg. The 22-year-old center has been out for six weeks after fracturing a bone in his foot against the Caroline Hurricanes. Before his injury, the ninth-overall pick from the 2013 entry draft was having a career year with 10 goals and 20 points in 28 games.

The Canucks, who won their last two games before starting their own bye week, are in seventh place in the Pacific Division with a record of 18-22-6 and 42 points. Only the Arizona Coyotes are looking up at them with 31 points.

Updated January 21, 2018

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