NEWARK, N.J. — Playing their third game in four nights in three different cities, the Winnipeg Jets had a bad start and it cost them in the end.
The Jets fell 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils in a shootout to conclude a four-game road trip.
Winnipeg picked up five of a possible eight points on the trip and return home to play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
"We got five points and we’re going home and we know we have to be better. We need a better start, that’s for sure," said goalie Ondrej Pavelec, easily Winnipeg’s best player and maybe their only good one on Sunday. "The points are great but we won’t be a success if we play like we did. It was a miracle that we were still in this game after the first. It was maybe our worst period of the year. They hit the post a couple of times and it could easily have been 4-1 and no one would have been surprised."
The Jets appeared to have cement in their skates early on and the Devils took advantage, scoring two quick goals. A funny bounce off a dump-in caught Winnipeg off guard and Ryan Carter was able to snap a shot past Pavelec. Next up, Stephen Gionta slipped behind a poorly positioned Dustin Byfuglien and danced down the left side before whipping a shot home. The Jets stayed alive as defenceman Mark Stuart scored a lucky goal with some help from Devils blueliner Andy Greene. Stuart flipped a shot towards the Jersey net and Greene tipped it past goalie Johan Hedberg.
The Jets found their legs in the middle frame and pushed back a little but the Devils still outchanced them. Evander Kane, however, found the mark on a 2-on-1 as he broke down the left side, held the puck and at the last moment zipped a wrist shot in off the post, leaving Hedberg frozen. The goal tied the game at 2-2 and sent the Jets into the dressing room in position to try and sneak out a road win.
The Devils pushed and pushed but couldn’t snipe. The Jets, playing on fumes, held on to get to overtime. Jets forward Alex Burmistrov did not play in the third period as Noel benched him. Noel called it a "coach’s decision" following the game.
Winnipeg tilted the ice in their favour and had the best chances in OT, including an Evander Kane blister special that Hedberg snagged at just the last second.
Three Jets were blanked by Johan Hedberg and Devils production machine Patrik Elias was able to beat Pavelec and give his team only it’s second win in nine games.
After the buzzer
EVANDER’S ENERGY: Kane said fatigue wasn’t a factor for him. "I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m not tired. This is what we train for in the summer," said Kane, who thought he had Hedberg beat in overtime.
"Usually when you use a D for a screen it’s hard for the goalie to pick it up. I thought I got a good amount of it. Enough to go in. But Moose (Hedberg) is a good goalie and he made a good save."