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Chibrikov scores winner in NHL debut as Winnipeg Jets secure Jennings Trophy with 4-2 win over Canucks

The Winnipeg Jets have sure picked a great time to match their longest win streak in franchise history.

Despite scratching more than a third of their normal lineup, the Jets secured their eighth win in a row to close out the regular season by beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 Thursday night.

Nikita Chibrikov scored the game-winning goal to break a two-two deadlock midway through the third period in his NHL debut and Brad Lambert had an assist in his first game.  The Jets matched their franchise record for wins in a season from 2017-2018 with their 52nd victory in front of a sellout crowd.

“We played hard,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “We turned the puck over a couple of times, but that’s gonna happen in every hockey game. But again in the third period, we really buckled down and we got the job done.”

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Both teams rested many of their top players as Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey and Connor Hellebuyck were among those who sat out for Winnipeg.

Cole Perfetti notched a pair, including an empty-netter to seal the win.

The Jets will enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the league. The win gives the Jets second place in the Western Conference as they finish the regular season as the top Canadian team, just one point better than the Canucks.

The Jets also secured the William M. Jennings Trophy for Hellebuyck in the process, given annually to the goaltenders who played at least 25 games for the team that allows the fewest goals in a season. The Jets allowed a league low 199 goals, just one fewer than the Florida Panthers.

Lambert and Chibrikov both appeared in their first NHL game just hours after being called up from the Manitoba Moose.

“Really nervous so it was a tough day today,” said Chibrikov. “No sleep at night. We were woken up around 4 AM to fly.”

While Lambert’s parents were able to be in attendance, Chibrikov’s family was watching from back home in Russia.

“The dream which you start from the first steps on the ice and live with this every day,” he said. “I’m really excited and happy to be here.”

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Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Nikita Chibrikov Interview – April 18'
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Nikita Chibrikov Interview – April 18

Lambert recorded his first career NHL point less than 12 minutes into his first game.

“It’s a dream come true for sure,” Lambert said. “An unbelievable feeling yesterday when I figured out that I was gonna play. It didn’t feel real at first, and then getting here, and experiencing this along with Chibby, and all these guys, it made it so special. And to be able to get a win as well, feels awesome.”

Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Brad Lambert Interview – April 18'
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Brad Lambert Interview – April 18

The Canucks opened the scoring 5:22 into the game when Dylan DeMelo tried to clear a loose puck from in front of Laurent Brossoit but he sent it right off Conor Garland’s leg and into the net.

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Winnipeg responded just over five minutes later when Alex Iafallo won a puck battle behind Vancouver’s net and slid the puck out in front where Gabriel Vilardi took it and tucked it around Thatcher Demko to tie the game.

Lambert picked up a secondary assist on the goal.

Each team had a power play opportunity in the first and failed to capitalize, though both teams came close with Quinn Hughes hitting the post for Vancouver.

Winnipeg grabbed their first lead of the night 55 seconds into the middle frame. Mason Appleton carried the puck up the right wing before sliding the puck over to Perfetti, who wired a shot high over the glove of Demko for his 18th of the season.

The Jets held onto the lead for most of the period before Brossoit was called for delay of game for sending the puck out of play from behind his net. 25 seconds later, Elias Lindholm tipped a Quinn Hughes shot past Brossoit to level the score with 2:49 remaining in the second.

Winnipeg regained the lead 5:18 into the third thanks to Chibrikov. After he stole the puck behind the Canucks net, he dropped it off to Nino Niederreiter before the rookie got a return pass and ripped it past Demko for his first NHL goal, sending the building into a frenzy.

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Vancouver came close to tying the game with just under three minutes left but the Jets survived, and after the Canucks pulled Demko for an extra attacker, an exhausted Perfetti sent the puck down the ice into the open goal with 2:07 remaining to secure the win.

The eight-game win streak matches the franchise record that was set earlier this season.

Brossoit made 18 saves to earn his 15th win in his 23rd appearance, finishing just two games shy of meeting the threshold to get his name on the Jennings Trophy.

Winnipeg will now have a couple days before they begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs by hosting Colorado in Game 1 of their first-round series on Sunday.

Puck drop is scheduled for just after 6 p.m.

Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Rick Bowness Interview – April 18'
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Rick Bowness Interview – April 18

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