They waited just about as long as possible but 16 seconds short of a full 65 minutes of hockey, Bryan Little pulled the Jets off the skids.
Little connected at 4:44 of overtime on what was generally a sloppy power play, lifting the Winnipeg Jets to a 3-2 decision over the Florida Panthers Tuesday night at the MTS Centre.
The victory stopped a three-game losing slide that was at times demoralizing last week on the road.
Winnipeg, now 4-4-1 on the season and 3-1-0 at home, was 4-1 last season in the next game after a three-game losing streak.
❚ The home side looked to be still reeling from their road trip. They generated just three shots — though they came close to scoring when Paul Postma’s shot hit the post and Bryan Little’s went off the crossbar — and eventually gave up the first goal of the game when rookie Jonathan Huberdeau pumped in a Drew Shore rebound at 18:12.
"We were very tentative in the first period," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "It looked like the puck was a grenade.
"I saw a lot of nervousness, saw a lot of plays that were uncharacteristic. We looked like we’d never been together."
❚ It wasn’t a flashy play but Blake Wheeler brought some life to the home team, and the faithful at the MTS Centre, when he just wound up and fired from the right wing. The puck clearly knuckled after clipping a Florida stick, but it wound up in the back of the net for Wheeler’s fourth of the season.
The lasted 1:24 as Tomas Fleischmann’s long, seeing-eye wrister went past Ondrej Pavelec. The Jets pulled even again with Mark Stuart’s first of the season at 12:21, a point shot through a screen.
❚ Nerves aplenty for the Jets in the 2-2 affair. Each side had a shot at a power play and failed. Stopping Florida’s chance, Winnipeg ended the night two for two on the penalty kill.
"I liked the penalty killing, liked the fact we only gave them two power plays and I liked our aggressiveness," Noel said. "We managed that part of the game a lot better.
❚ A Jets power play came when Filip Kuba was caught tripping Evander Kane. The Jets had a couple of early shots at it, then bumbled much of the time away. With six seconds left in the advantage and time winding down, Zach Redmond found Bryan Little in open ice crossing the Florida blueline and Little buried a high shot over Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen to end it.
"If I was in the stands, I probably would have been booing, too," Little said of the late power play. "Four on three, it should be a little easier to get in the zone but for some reason we had some trouble with it.
"It doesn’t really matter now that we got the two points."
After the Buzzer
❚ No one in the Jets room was claiming masterpiece, but the two points were valuable.
"It’s nice to get a win and get a good feeling back in this room," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "Any time you took a loss like you did in Tampa, it’s a pretty dull feeling around here.
"You’ve got to try to find ways to be positive and get some energy and some life in the room."
Noel said rest will be a priority for his team the rest of this week, which includes a Thursday home game vs. Toronto.
"I thought we looked like a fairly tired hockey team so that’s something we’re addressing," the coach said. "It’s a good time to back off and get some rest for us."