The Winnipeg Jets began an East Coast road-trip with a game against the New Jersey Devils, who’ve found their recent form to be best described as “scuffling”. Both teams have had troubling winning games of late, but the Devils have only recorded 1 regulation loss at home this season. Winnipeg, on the other hand, was returning from a game against Chicago that could easily have earned the team the nickname “Cardiac Kids”. Who would prevail between of battle of talented, but underperforming squads?
The First Period
The Devils were on the end of a back-to-back. For some reason, the Jets have had trouble taking advantage of that, and immediately looked slow coming out of the gates. Before you knew it, New Jersey had put 7 pucks on the net in a little over 5 minutes, with Winnipeg failing to record a shot. Jets back-up Laurent Brossoit was busy throughout the early proceedings, but looked sharp in net. His movements and reads were less chaotic than some of his recent outings, and that kept the Jets from conceding.
Winnipeg couldn’t hold the Devils off the scoresheet for long, though. Marcus Johansson found a fortunate deflection from a shot Ben Chiarot blocked and slammed the puck into the net. It was part poor fortune, part crappy play, all bad result. The Devils continued to press for the entire period and generated some very dangerous scoring opportunities. Winnipeg was mostly held out of the offensive zone and ineffective, struggling to cope with New Jersey’s aggressive forecheck. Brossoit, thankfully, kept the deficit to just one goal for the remainder of the opening 20 minutes.
The Second Period
Winnipeg still didn’t have its skating legs, and the Devils looked to pad their lead. Winnipeg’s franchise superstar, Mark Scheifele, wasn’t having any of it. A patient offensive zone possession saw a perfect pass from Blake Wheeler connect, with Scheifele doing his best Patrik Laine impression to one-time the pass into the net. The Jets, despite looking pretty bad, had managed to knot the game at 1-1.
As the period went one, Winnipeg began to warm up to the task of playing a hockey game and applied some decent offensive pressure. It didn’t result in the go-ahead goal, but it did force the Devils to stretch the play a bit. Both Brossoit and Keith Kinkaid saw a decent amount of action, and each goalie was equally up to the task. The game entered the third period with a tightly-contested scoreline and a boatload of anxiety-ridden Jets fans.
The Third Period
The Jets finally roared to life and began to take the game over. I’m not sure if Maurice made someone cry in the room or not, but Winnipeg found some seriously skating legs and put Kinkaid to work. It took a while for the better play to pay off, but Jack Roslovic made his chance count. He started an aggressive zone possession and skated around the perimeter several times, Nik Ehlers-style. It began to create separation between New Jersey’s defenders and their marks. Roslovic found a late-arriving Josh Morrissey for a beautiful goal, just past the halfway mark of the third.
Just a few minutes later, Andrew Copp announced his return to the team with a great individual effort to drag the puck around a sprawling Kinkaid, putting Winnipeg in the driver’s seat at 3-1. Mason Appleton, who made his NHL debut this evening, also collected his first NHL point, an assist on Copp’s goal. Congrats Mason! Everything was feeling peachy until the last few minutes of the game. A late Devils power play goal from Jesper Bratt changed the complexion of the game-state, and New Jersey was very interested in equalizing the score.
Just as Kinkaid was pulled, a bunch of chaos erupted around Brossoit’s net. A mass of humans piled around Brossoit, who had sprawled out thinking he had covered the puck. Instead, Taylor Hall found the biscuit and tucked it into the net, tying the game with scarcely 2 minutes remaining. The Devils felt they could win the game, and continued to press a stunned Jets team. Thankfully, the game remained tied and entered overtime.
Holy crap y’all. EVERYTHING HAPPENED. EVERYTHING. Brossoit and Kinkaid had to make some absolutely ridiculous stops on odd-man situations. Winnipeg had the early pressure, holding the edge in zone possession. They weren’t able to create enough space to get the puck in a dangerous area, and a missed pass suddenly sprang Nico Hischier and Hall on a 2-on-0. Somehow, Brossoit read Hischier’s pass to Hall perfectly and calmly kicked the puck away, saving the game.
The Jets set about getting their own over-time winner, with Laine getting a glorious opportunity in space from the right side. Kinkaid gloved what was a surefire goal and passed the puck.....right to Kyle Connor. The young American deked around Kinkaid as he went down, but Keith magically gloved the puck again. Two stone-cold robberies in 20 seconds. Just unreal stuff. Both teams continued to exchange chances, but Scheifele decided he’d had enough. He turned over an offensive zone possession to Hischier, recovered the puck right before Hischier was about to dance away alone, created a huge rebound shot of off Kinkaid, and recollected the rebound to deposit into the net. That, friends, was a magical, magical over-time period.
- Brossoit and Kinkaid were awesome. Props to both goalies for some ridiculous saves out there.
- Congrats to Mason on his first NHL game and point! He had a pretty solid night overall.
- Roslovic has needed a big moment, after his fourth line struggles have become painfully apparent. That assist to Morrissey was a godsend.
- Scheifele is unstoppable, and is tracking towards an absurd 101-point season that no one seems to be talking about. Scoring may be up, but Scheifele deserves credit for a wonderful start to his season.
- Winnipeg very nearly collapsed late in this game. Again, the Jets have had trouble closing it out. This needs to be rectified immediately.
- The defense had a bit of a helter-skelter night, which you’d expect with Byfuglien absent. That said, there were some amazingly bad plays that nearly cost the Jets time and again. Thank you, Brossoit.