Hellebuyck sets franchise record, goes for a goal
WINNIPEG -- With a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, Jets’ netminder Connor Hellebuyck picked up his fourth shutout of the season and 18th of his NHL career.
Both numbers have meaning; four shutouts are the most in the NHL as of January 15, and 18 shutouts sets a new franchise record, surpassing Ondrej Pavelec’s mark of 17.
"Oh, I didn't even realize that," Hellebuyck said following the game. “That's pretty exciting, that'll definitely be a milestone, and I hope I get that puck."
Following a stretch where he went 3-5-1 while getting by with a .879 save percentage, the 26-year-old has posted a 3-1-1 record and blistering .949 save percentage.
"I got back to my practice habits. I didn't even realize that they were kind of slipping on me,” he said. “It's such a small difference, it's just me battling in practice every day. And then now I'm getting some bounces. I think last month I didn't get very many good bounces, I think I'm in a position now to force more good bounces my way."
Hellebuyck was trying to add his first NHL goal to those totals on Tuesday when he took aim at an empty net with just under three minutes remaining and a 3-0 lead. The attempt was quickly batted down by Bo Horvat, but Hellebuyck, with a grin on his face, received a cheer from Bell MTS Place.
“That was pretty much the most perfect opportunity you'll ever get,” he said of his goal attempt. “[The puck] stops right there, I can skate up into it. The only problem was that the puck turned on me a little bit. You'd like to be up by two, and you'd like to have it in front of the net. Pekka Rinne did it recently, and he's pretty gifted in that aspect."
Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice was a fan of it.
"The shutouts kind of on him. If he steps up and feeds that thing up the middle and somebody knocks it down and it's not a high stick, then he can handle it,” said Maurice. “Better him than somebody else. After the way he's played, he should have ownership over the way it ends. I wanted him to take that shot."
Hellebucyk currently holds the franchise mark for the highest save percentage at .917 and is 15 wins away from breaking Pavelec’s record of 152. The Jets take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night to end a three-game homestand.