Jets take down Canucks 4-2 as both teams wrap up regular season

WINNIPEG — Nikita Chibrikov had a memorable NHL debut.

The Winnipeg Jets forward scored the game-winner and Cole Perfetti tallied a pair of goals as the Jets defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 to close out their regular seasons on Thursday.

“It's like the dream, which you start from the first steps on the ice and live with this every day,” said Chibrikov, who was called up from the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose earlier in the day.

The victory produced some notable accomplishments in front of the 10th sellout crowd of the season at Canada Life Centre.

The Jets finished the regular season giving up 199 total goals, the fewest in the NHL and one less than the Florida Panthers, to earn the league’s William M. Jennings Trophy for the first time.

“Give the players credit,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said. “The players have to go on the ice and do it, and they have to go out there every night and be committed to it."

The Jets also extended their win streak to eight games, tying the franchise record they set earlier this season. Their 52 victories (52-24-6) also matched the franchise record for wins in a season with the 2017-18 squad.

Winnipeg’s 110 points — the most by any Canadian team this season — gave the Jets second place in the Western Conference behind Dallas and home-ice advantage in the first three rounds of the playoffs against teams other than the Stars.

Gabe Vilardi also scored for the Jets, who won the season series against the Canucks 2-1, and Laurent Brossoit made 18 saves for his 15th win of the season in his 23rd game.

Conor Garland had a goal and assist for the Canucks (50-23-9). Elias Lindholm scored on the power play.

Thatcher Demko stopped 22 of 25 shots in his second straight start in net for Vancouver after returning from a 14-game absence because of a knee injury.

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

The Canucks snapped a two-game win streak and finished 3-1-1 in their last five games.

Both clubs rested players as they prepare for the first round of the NHL playoffs. Winnipeg takes on the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver faces the Nashville Predators, with both series beginning Sunday.

Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet said his team’s play wasn’t bad.

“Got to move on,” he said. “Now the big time. The big prize now is playing on Sunday.”

The Jets were without top-line forwards Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, as well as star defenceman Josh Morrissey and starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck. The Canucks sat forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser.

The game was tied 1-1 after the first period and 2-2 heading into the third.

Vancouver’s first shot of the game was a deflection off Garland from a Jets clearing attempt at 5:22, giving him 20 goals this season.

Vilardi tied it up six minutes later when he skated across the crease with the puck, turned and flipped it over a splayed-out Demko for his 22nd marker.

Perfetti made it 2-1 just 55 seconds into the middle frame on a 3-on-1, recording his 18th of the season.

Lindholm’s tip of a Hughes shot 25 seconds into a power play tied it up at 17:11, but Perfetti scored into an empty net with 2:05 left in the third.


Jets forward Sean Monahan had the distinction of playing in his 83rd game of the season — the only player in the league to reach that mark.

Monahan was acquired in a Feb. 2 trade with Montreal after playing 49 games with the Canadiens. Thursday was his 34th for Winnipeg.

He could have skated in 84 games, but missed one Jets game because he was sick.


Winnipeg used its regular-season finale to call up some players from the Moose before the AHL playoffs begin.

Forward Brad Lambert also made his NHL debut. Goalie Collin Delia backed up Brossoit.

While his Russian teammate scored a goal, the Finnish-born Lambert also recorded his first point with an assist on Vilardi’s goal.


Jets: Host Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of their NHL first-round playoff series on Sunday.

Canucks: Host Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their opening series on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2024.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press