With all the attention Patrik Laine gets in Winnipeg, it can be easy to overlook another budding star on the Jets.
But it wasn’t easy to overlook Nikolaj Ehlers last night in Vancouver. Though Laine did score his 19th of the season, it was Ehlers who tallied the winner early in the third period, making a great defensive play to intercept a Henrik Sedin pass, then racing down the ice to beat Ryan Miller with a perfect shot.
Later in the third, the 20-year-old winger added an insurance marker, leading the Jets to an eventual 4-1 win over the Canucks.
“You know what? On chance generation, Nicky’s probably led our hockey team,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “He’s just been in alone so many times and he hasn’t got any breaks around the net. He’s still generated points. He just hasn’t put the puck past the ‘tender.”
“He’s an amazing kid,” Laine said of his Danish linemate, the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft. “I haven’t seen a guy who can skate like that. He has really good hands, and like everybody saw, he can also score.”
Ehlers really showed off those good hands on his second goal. The Jets were on the power play, and they worked it down low. He took a pass to the left of Miller, darted out front and roofed it for a 3-1 lead.
“I tried to put it backdoor to Patrik first, but he didn’t want to score,” Ehlers deadpanned to reporters. “So I knew that the D was going to cheat a little bit…and just did it myself.”
With the win, the Jets entered their Christmas break with a 16-17-3 record. Though they struggled for much of November and December, they’ve managed to win three of their last four, putting them within a point of the final wild-card spot in the West.