WINNIPEG â€” Adam Lowry can say the first game-winning goal of his career, at the very least, staved off playoff elimination for one more game.
Michael Hutchinson made 28 saves and Lowry scored a third-period power-play goal to lift the Winnipeg Jets to a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
Lowry scored the eventual winner with 8:13 to go in the third period to keep the Jets still mathematically in playoff contention, albeit hanging on by a string.
It was the first winner in Lowry’s three-year NHL career and it kept the Jets’ tragic number standing at one, with a loss or a St. Louis win the rest of the way closing the door on the post-season.
For now, however, Lowry can enjoy the heroics.
“It’s always nice to score goals at crucial times. At this time of the year, it’s still fun to win,” Lowry said. “We’re still trying to put our best foot forward in the game.”
Mathieu Perreault also scored for Winnipeg (34-35-7), which was playing its second straight game without defenceman Dustin Byfuglien (lower-body injury) and was also without rookie sensation Patrik Laine, who was a late scratch with an illness.
Perreault extended his point streak to six games, a span in which he has four goals and 11 points.
Lowry’s goal came moments after Hutchinson stopped the Canucks’ Sven Baertschi on a shorthanded 2-on-1 breakaway and Blake Wheeler led the offensive transition the other way. Perreault wound up with the puck, made a nifty move down low and fed Lowry in the left face-off circle where he fired a wrist shot over Miller.
“The D-man kinda gave me the lane to the net, so I took it and the goalie made a good save there,” Baertschi said on his missed opportunity. “I tried to pick a corner but he made a good save and obviously it went the other way right away.”
Alexander Edler had the only goal for Vancouver (30-36-9), while Ryan Miller made 30 saves, a number of them coming in a flurry of shots in the first period when he was able to keep the Jets off the board and the Canucks in the game.
“He’s done it all year for us and it doesn’t feel good when he doesn’t get something back for it,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “He keeps us in every game and that’s what he’s done all year.”
On the other end, Hutchinson was steady in winning for the third time in his last four starts.
“It’s always nice when you play in those games where it’s tight going into the third,” he said. “With us having a young team, every game we can have close in the third period, we’re treating it as a playoff game. â€¦ We battled hard in front of the net, even when they pulled their goalie. You had (Josh) Morrissey knocking things down, (Jacob Trouba) sacrificing his body all night.”
Edler’s wrist shot from the point opened the scoring. The puck weaved its way through traffic and beat a handcuffed Hutchinson with 21 seconds left in the first period.
Winnipeg capitalized on the game’s first power play, 13:51 into the second, when Perreault, Wheeler and Mark Scheifele worked the puck back and forth between each other before Perreault stepped in to Miller’s left and fired a shot over his glove hand to tie it 1-1.
The Canucks were unable to win for the third time in four games after winning 4-2 Saturday night in Minnesota.
Winnipeg, with its third straight victory at home, improved to 19-18-1 at MTS Centre this season.
The Canucks return home for a three-game homestand against Pacific Division teams starting Tuesday against Anaheim.
The Jets have a getaway game Tuesday at New Jersey before coming home for two games.
David Larkins, The Canadian Press