Czech winger Vrbata helps Canucks beat Jets 5-2
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Czech winger Radim Vrbata was signed to give the Vancouver Canucks some much-needed offense, and that’s exactly what he’s done as the team makes its push for a return to the NHL playoffs.
Vrbata had two goals and an assist in leading Vancouver to a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets late Tuesday.
The Canucks had already erased a 2-0 deficit when Vrbata grabbed a loose puck off the sideboards and scored the tiebreaker, outwaiting Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson with a minute left in the second period.
“He’s just kind of an assassin,” said teammate Chris Higgins, who had a goal and an assist. “It’s pretty incredible watching him around the net — so much poise and patience. He’s very aware of how much time he has.”
Vrbata added a late goal into an empty net for his team-high 29th of the season. He has three goals and four assists in his last three games.
“You go by your instincts,” Vrbata said of the game-winner. “If you overthink it then you might get in trouble.”
Henrik Sedin had an empty-net goal of his own and two assists for the Canucks, who have won three in a row.
Vancouver, which also got two assists from Daniel Sedin, is second in the Pacific Division, four points up on Calgary.
Winnipeg had won five in a row. Czech center Jiri Tlusty scored for the Jets.
Vancouver needed a scoring boost after finishing tied for the NHL’s second-worst offense while missing the playoffs last season. Vrbata has been everything the club could have hoped for after signing for two years back in July.
“A lot of nights you don’t really see him out there,” Henrik Sedin said. “But once he gets the puck on his stick you see the first couple strides and there’s no chance of catching him.”