Kyle Connor liked the way a new Winnipeg Jets top line was clicking on Sunday.
Connor had a hat trick while being teamed up with centre Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers in Winnipeg’s 7-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks that stretched their NHL win streak to five games.
Dubois contributed four assists and Ehlers recorded a goal and two assists in his second game back after missing 36 contests because of sports hernia surgery.
“Obviously a lot of potential with that line,” Connor said. “We also think the same way in a lot of senses, coming into the offensive zone. That’s what gives us the ability to read off of each other. A lot of cross-and-drops, finding the weak side.
“It’s just a lot of fun right now and hopefully we just continue to grow. This is Nik’s second game back and he’s only going to get better, our chemistry is only getting better and, hopefully, the sky’s the limit.”
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby had a goal and assist and Morgan Barron and Dylan DeMelo, with a short-handed marker, also scored. Brenden Dillon added a pair of helpers in front of 14,206 fans at Canada Life Centre.
Ehlers said he felt more like himself in his second game back, adding Connor and Dubois are easy to play with.
“I told them I might need some help in the first couple games and they did a good job with that,” said Ehlers, who was injured in the second game of the season.
“We read off each other as much as possible. I think that’s what makes this line a good line. And then as soon as we have a chance to get the puck, defensively or offensively, we’re going all out. So try to use our speed as much as possible.”
David Rittich stopped 34 shots for Winnipeg.
Bo Horvat scored his 29th of the season and J.T. Miller had a goal and a pair of assists for the Canucks (17-19-3), who have one win in their past five games. Jack Studnicka and Sheldon Dries also scored.
Vancouver came back twice from two-goal deficits to tie the game.
“It sounds exhausting, really,” Miller said. “We gave up seven goals without an empty-netter. We’re just not defending, I guess, hard enough. Or, we just seem to be giving up a lot of big chances and they are capitalizing on them.”
Collin Delia started the game in net for Vancouver, but was replaced at 5:34 of the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots. Replacement Spencer Martin made 11 saves.
“This is the first time in a long time I think that I’ve pulled one of them,” Vancouver head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s the first time I’ve pulled Collin and it was more of, OK, let’s slow it down.
“I know the guys wanted to play for him and I think for the next 10 minutes we came out we did a real good job, but we just couldn’t sustain it.”
Connor scored his 18th of the season at 6:22 of the first period.
Ilya Mikheyev appeared to score with Vancouver’s first shot of the game half a minute later, but Winnipeg successfully challenged for offside and the goal was nixed.
Connor made it 2-0 after racing around defenceman Tyler Myers and beating Delia with a low shot at 7:59.
Miller got Vancouver’s first goal at 15:14, followed by Studnicka tipping in a Luke Schenn shot at 17:33 to tie the game 2-2.
Ehlers recorded his first goal of the season at 3:40 of the second period and Barron made it 4-2 just under two minutes later.
Horvat blasted a shot past Rittich at 7:05 and Dries redirected a Miller shot during the game’s first power play at 9:26. Horvat has three goals and two assists in a four-game point streak, and 13 points in his past seven outings.
A high wrist shot by Jonsson-Fjallby with 1:43 left gave the Jets a 5-4 edge.
Vancouver got a second power play early in the third, but DeMelo scored short-handed at 5:29 after taking a drop pass from Jonsson-Fjallby.
Connor scored his third goal at 13:42.
Connor and Dubois are both riding six-game point streaks. Connor has five goals and six assists in his point run, while Dubois has four goals and six assists.
Connor extended his home point streak to 11 games, collecting nine goals and 12 assists during that span. Ehlers holds the franchise record with points in 12 consecutive games at home last season. Josh Morrissey had his 10-game home point streak end.
The Winnipeg Jets begin a three-game road trip Tuesday in Detroit against the Red Wings. The Vancouver Canucks play the second game of a five-game road trip Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2023.