The Winnipeg Jets are desperate for a spark. With their playoff hopes in the balance, they took the ice against their former head coach in Paul Maurice, eager to add 2 critical points to Winnipeg’s standings. It wasn’t the cleanest of games, but the Jets survived their own silliness and the loss of Josh Morrissey to win in overtime. The victory will help the Jets breathe a little easier, especially with the Calgary Flames losing on the previous day.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts, with the Jets looking sluggish and sloppy against the Panthers press. Winnipeg struggled to exit the defensive zone or get through the neutral zone, turning over the puck far too many times. Somehow, the Jets managed to avoid conceding despite giving up a multitude of early shots. Winnipeg rallied off of Hellebuyck’s efforts and took the early lead off of a Scheifele power play goal. Ehlers helped kick off the sequence with a zone entry that led to Wheeler, Connor, and Scheifele combining for a great team goal.
Ehlers added to Winnipeg’s lead late in the period, wristing a beautiful shot through Bobrovsky to make it 2-0. The goal was against the run of play, but Winnipeg wasn’t complaining. The Jets had a bit of a scare less than 2 minutes later, with Matthew Tkachuk scooting one across the line to cut the lead back. Recent arrival Vladislav Namestnikov answered Tkachuk’s goal with a shoveled effort of his own, restoring the 2-goal lead. Yay!
Winnipeg refuses to make things easy. At the start of the second period, they gave up a power play goal to Sam Reinhart, giving the Panthers a lifeline yet again. Florida continued to push the pace and control play, outshooting the Jets something like 2:1. Hellebuyck, however, stood tall, and gave the Jets enough time for Namestnikov to score his second goal of the game. The Jets would retain the 4-2 lead until intermission.
The Jets, now without Morrissey due to an injury, struggled to survive the Panthers pressure. Marc Staal and Matthew Tkachuk punished Winnipeg’s mistakes, tying the game less than 10 minutes into the final frame of regulation. Things started to feel like a Jets loss, and I was dreading the reaction online. Hellebuyck managed to shut the door and hold out until overtime. Winnipeg’s 3v3 shifts very nearly cost the team the extra point. I’m still not sure how Florida didn’t score on an empty net, but the Jets managed to squeak out the victory at the other end thanks to Scheifele. Sheesh!
- Lowry and Morrissey will both miss Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay. If Morrissey misses any length of time for Winnipeg, the team will be in big trouble.
- Namestnikov and Niederreiter continue to do good things for Winnipeg. The trade deadline may have been a lot more modest than expected, but the Jets can’t complain about the performance of their new skaters.
- Ehlers looked a lot more like himself, earning a multipoint performance and drawing penalties. Let my man cook, Bowness.
- Hellebuyck made some tremendous stops to keep the Jets afloat. It was especially noticeable with Morrissey absent.
- Pionk and Saku....oh dear.