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Gabe Vilardi's hat trick helps Jets clinch playoff berth with 5-2 win over Flames

Winnipeg Jets' Gabriel Vilardi (13) scores on Calgary Flames goaltender Dustin Wolf (32) as Oliver Kylington (58) defends during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 4, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods) Winnipeg Jets' Gabriel Vilardi (13) scores on Calgary Flames goaltender Dustin Wolf (32) as Oliver Kylington (58) defends during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 4, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)
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Gabe Vilardi scored a hat trick to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

The win clinched a playoff berth for Winnipeg and eliminated Calgary from the wild-card race.

Vilardi scored his third goal into an empty net with 1:04 left in the game. Nikolaj Ehlers, who had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Jets (46-24-6).

Martin Pospisil and MacKenzie Weegar scored for the Flames (34-36-5).

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 31 of 33 shots for Winnipeg at Canada Life Centre.

Dustin Wolf made 41 saves for Calgary.

It was the final contest of a five-game homestand for Winnipeg.

Calgary opened the scoring on the power play early in the game. Just 31 seconds after Ehlers took a tripping penalty, Weegar scored on a screened shot from the point. Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrei Kuzmenko had dug the puck out from behind the net, out-battling both Jets defencemen.

Wolf, who faced 17 shots in the first period, robbed Tyler Toffoli on a backhand from alone in front before the Jets scored their first goal.

Winnipeg knotted the score 1-1 on the power play. With Kevn Ronney off for tripping during a penalty kill, Vilardi converted a perfect pass from Kyle Connor alone in front of Wolf. Josh Morrissey also assisted.

The Jets took a 2-1 lead less than two minutes after scoring their first goal. Ehlers converted a perfect pass from Cole Perfetti and fired a quick shot past Wolf.

The Flames took advantage of Winnipeg’s sloppy play in the second to tie the score 2-2 midway through the middle frame. Pospisil deflected Daniil Miromanov’s point shot past a screened Hellebuyck. Weegar also assisted.

Toffoli had just restored Winnipeg’s one-goal lead with its second power-play goal of the game. With Nikita Okhotiuk off for hooking, Toffoli took a pass from Namestnikov and swept the puck past Wolf. Ehlers also assisted as the Jets took a 3-2 lead into the third period.

In the last minute of the second period, Pospisil elbowed Morrissey in the head. After a review demanded by Jets coach Rick Bowness, Pospisil was given a five-minute major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct instead of the minor infraction originally called.

Vilardi scored his second of the game when he pounced on a Josh Morrissey rebound and plopped the puck in the net to give the Jets a 4-2 lead almost midway through the third period.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 4, 2024.

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