Wheeler had two goals and two assists as Winnipeg beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 to place third in the standings. The Jets (29-23-3) will open the playoffs against the second-placed Edmonton Oilers (34-18-2) with rivals Original Six, the Toronto Maple Leafs (35-13-6) and the Montreal (24-21-). 10) meeting in the other series.
Winnipeg only needed one point to consolidate third place. But Wheeler said securing a solid win so close to the playoffs certainly didn’t hurt.“You have to give guys a lot of credit to keep pushing and keep doing the right things and the same things,” he said. “At the end of the day, when it comes to the playoffs, it’s a lot harder to score goals and that’s how you score goals.
“You just keep doing the same things over and over again with this blind faith that you’re going to be rewarded for it. “
WATCH | The Jets stars lead the race in the Canucks explosion:
It was also revealed on Tuesday earlier this season that Wheeler continued to play despite cracked ribs. But the Jets captain said there was no doubt in his mind he wouldn’t be playing.
“I always felt like I could help the team and that was the most important thing for me,” he said. “Granted, I wasn’t myself, but if I held us back it would have been a different story but our team was always going in the right direction. “
Head coach Paul Maurice stressed that player safety is always Winnipeg’s top priority. But when it comes to pain tolerance, Wheeler has earned the right to determine whether or not he can play it.
“We are not putting the players at risk,” said Maurice. “Before anyone plays, the doctor decides if it’s just pain or if it can get worse.
“But if it’s about pain tolerance, then you’re going to listen to your guys. He [Wheeler] has an incredibly high pain tolerance and at the same time I’m going to watch this game and if it’s clear he can’t play he won’t play. ”
Kyle Connor had one goal and two assists, Mark Sheifele had one goal and one assist and Mason Appleton scored the other for Winnipeg, which avenged a 3-1 loss to Vancouver on Monday night. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 24 shots for his fourth shutout of the year and the 24th of his career.
“That’s the confidence we need for the playoffs,” Hellebuyck said. “We can’t go to the playoffs losing, it never works.
“We played a really good game tonight and I’m really excited to see how we’re doing. “
Braden Holtby stopped 31 shots for Vancouver (21-27-3), which remains the last in the North Division.
“I think it’s pretty obvious, there aren’t a lot of good things to be found in this game from start to finish,” said Canucks head coach Travis Green. “It’s a good team trying to prepare for the playoffs and we weren’t at our best.
“I felt bad for Holts tonight. We were often in our area. We weren’t good at any part of the game. “
1000e match de Stastny
Veteran Winnipeg forward Paul Stastny played his 1,000th career game. Prior to the competition, with his wife and two young children on the ice, Stastny, 35 – who also played for the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights – was honored at the a video tribute before receiving a personalized piece of art and the very first silver baton in the history of the Jets franchise.
“It was emotional,” Stastny said. “I was happy, more than anything, that my children were there as well as my wife.
“It’s always nice to hear compliments, compliments are nice, let’s be honest, everyone loves it. I don’t like the limelight. I’m glad it’s over because I love to fly under the radar. “
But Stastny admitted that it was much easier to celebrate this achievement with a win.
“If we had lost 5-0 everyone would still be cranky,” he said. But I think everyone is still in a good mood.
“We know where we are now. It’s always nice to win on a special night like this. “
A truly magnificent milestone achieved only by the elite!
Wheeler said the Jets wanted to do whatever they could to make Stastny’s achievement even more special.
“He doesn’t say much, he doesn’t control the spotlight, he doesn’t get a lot of attention and his teammates respect him for that,” Wheeler said. “It was an evening that was kind of an energizing moment for our team.
“We wanted a good night’s sleep for him, we wanted it to be a night to remember for him… It’s something he will always remember. “
With Winnipeg’s postseason opponent now determined, Maurice can expect to face plenty of questions over the top-flight Oilers.
“I’ll answer, ‘How do you stop Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl?’ “412 times,” said Maurice. “And if I’m good, I’ll give you 412 answers.
“I just hope one of them is right. “
Connor opened the scoring 7:48 off the first with his 24th of the season and second in as many games against Vancouver. Connor took a nice pass from Wheeler before beating Holtby.
Wheeler put Winnipeg in the lead 2-0 at 2:05 of the second, registering their 14th of the season unassisted. Wheeler caught a pass on the Scheifele deflection at 8:33, 21st of the year for Scheifele.
Wheeler went 4-0 with his second of the game and 15th of the season at 10:44 of the third. Appleton recorded her 11th of the year at 11:54 am.