They went nearly three weeks without a close result — one way or the other — but the Winnipeg Jets have been nothing but late-night thrillers this week at the MTS Centre.
For a second straight game they coughed up a 3-1 third-period lead but again Thursday, they repeated late heroics with Dustin Byfuglien’s overtime goal for the 4-3 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes.
"We found a way to win, that’s the good thing," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "And we’ve done it twice in a row."
Winnipeg has won all five so far of the six-game homestand that closes Saturday afternoon with a monster game against the New York Islanders.
It’s the team’s longest such streak since it was the Atlanta Thrashers in November 2010.
It also keeps them in touch with the ever-closer group scrambling for Eastern Conference playoff spots, still tied in points, now at 48, with the New York Rangers.
Ahead of them, the Rangers, Islanders and Ottawa were winners Thursday, with the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals losers in Ottawa. That pulls the Jets within two points of the Caps and the conference’s third seed.
❚ The Jets squander two early power plays but come up with the first goal at 12:13 on a broken play. Bryan Little led the rush through centre and when he tried to make a play through Canes defenceman Tim Gleason, it fluttered away towards the net. Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian was joining the rush on the right wing and he beat Carolina defender Riley Nash, who was covering from the middle, to the puck and chipped it past goalie Justin Peters.
❚ One of the most eventful periods of the season included Ondrej Pavelec’s ridiculous paddle save off Justin Faulk of the Canes, then Paul Postma’s back-door power-play goal for the Jets followed by Tuomo Ruutu’s crafty hands putting the Canes on the board at 10:38.
"Three or four 10-bellers," defenceman Ron Hainsey said of Pavelec saves in the second.
❚ Blake Wheeler, on a sweet, breaking feed from Bryan Little, made it 3-1 at 8:40, but Ruutu scored on a deflection at 12:22 and Alexander Semin converted a rebound at 18:48, just seconds after a missed call when a Canes defender swatted the stick out of Wheeler’s hands.
"I don’t care," Pavelec said of another blown lead. "We got two points. Of course we want to close the game but those things happen. We have to learn from it but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter."
❚ Escaping more Carolina pressure, Andrew Ladd broke up the ice and Byfuglien caught up for a two-on-one and swatted home the rebound at 1:23.
"I just jumped up and I think he shot if off that pad on purpose and I got the rebound," Byfuglien said.
After the buzzer
❚ Among the Jets’ pluses Thursday, Byfuglien was a force in many areas of the ice, apart from his winner. "I saw a couple of opportunities to make some hits and just took them," he said.