With the Winnipeg Jets in the midst of their first three-game losing skid of the season, a big milestone celebration helped snap the streak.
On the night that Sam Gagner played in his 1,000th NHL game, it was Mark Scheifele whose hat-trick helped push the Jets to a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night.
The night got off to a nightmarish start for the Jets as Vancouver opening the scoring just 41 seconds in.
From the corner in his own zone, Dylan Samberg tried a cross-ice pass to the far point that wound up on the stick of Elias Pettersson, who found Andrei Kuzmenko for his 15th of the season.
The rest of the period did not allay fears that the Jets would be hard-pressed to generate offence with the rash of injuries to their forwards. It took more than 10 minutes to register a shot on goal and they finished the frame with just six shots.
Vancouver nearly doubled their lead on the power play early in the second period but Connor Hellebuyck made a great pad save on J.T. Miller to keep the deficit at one.
Winnipeg started to turn the game in their favour when they earned their first opportunity with the man advantage just over 13 minutes into the period.
Mark Scheifele made the Canucks pay when he tipped a Josh Morrissey point shot past Collin Delia to even the score.
Less than two minutes later, Gagner sprung Pierre-Luc Dubois on a breakaway with a great pass. Dubois was hauled down by Ethan Bear, earning the Jets forward a penalty shot.
With the collected faithful on their feet and the game at a stop, Dubois ambled in on goal and beat Delia blocker-side to put Winnipeg in front for the first time. It was the first penalty shot goal by the Jets since Nikolaj Ehlers scored one in Tampa Bay Jan. 3, 2017.
The Jets continued to pour on the pressure, earning a late power play that was negated when Dubois took an interference penalty.
But when Travis Dermott was called for interference with 27.3 to go in the period, it gave Winnipeg a 4-on-3 power play, and with just 2.5 seconds left Scheifele beat Delia through a great Adam Lowry screen to make it 3-1.
Winnipeg wound up with a 20-7 advantage in shots on goal in the period as they seized control of the game.
The Jets almost added to their lead early in the period when Dubois walked through the Canucks defence and set up Dylan DeMelo from the faceoff dot but he was robbed by the glove of Delia.
Midway through the period when the Jets on another power play, Morrissey was trucked by former teammate Tyler Myers. He went to the locker room for a few minutes, came back on the ice for a quick shift but then left again and did not return.
With 6:49 remaining, the Canucks cut the lead to one. Dubois blocked a shot that bounced off the end boards to the side of the net where Conor Garland collected it and banked it in off the skate of Hellebuyck.
Kyle Connor got a fantastic chance to restore the two-goal lead just over a minute later when he was sprung on a breakaway but after making a few moves he fired the puck wide of the net.
Some great forechecking pressure by the Jets took lots of time of the clock before the Canucks were finally able to pull the goalie with under a minute left.
But just as Vancouver gained the zone, Adam Lowry got the puck and chased it up the ice, winning a race and setting up Scheifele for a tap-in. It’s the second hat-trick of the season for Scheifele and the seventh of his career.
Hellebuyck only had to make 20 saves for the win while Delia gets saddled with the loss despite stopping 34 shots.
Winnipeg will try to finish off 2022 on a high note when they visit the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 7 p.m. with the puck dropping just after 9 p.m.