The Winnipeg Jets overcame three different deficits to defeat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 in a shootout at MTS Centre Sunday night.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd tied the game with just 1:43 to play in regulation on a one-timer from the slot, rang the post in a scoreless overtime and then scored the only goal of the shootout to lead his club to their third win in four games, third win a row at home and their first back-to-back victory since the start of the season.
While the Jets special teams weren’t pretty on this night -- San Jose scored twice with the man advantage, while Winnipeg went 0-2 with the man advantage and has now scored just once in their last 44 powerplays -- Jets head coach Claude Noel said his team showed both courage and resilience in grinding out a tough come-from-behind win that might have ended differently just a few short weeks ago.
"The outcome was great -- couldn’t have drawn it up any better. I thought we played a really strong game. I thought we were resilient in the game, we didn’t lose our focus, we didn’t lose our hope when we easily could have after the first period," Noel said.
"I thought our guys were good. They really didn’t get rattled. A week or two ago might have been different but I thought we were really good...
"To me it was a huge building block for our team this game in a lot of different ways."
In addition to Ladd’s equalizer late in the third period, the Jets got second period goals from Michael Frolik, Dustin Byfuglien and Grant Clitsome -- who also had two assists on the night to lead the Jets on the scoresheet -- as Winnipeg overcame deficits of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 to defeat a Sharks club that is now winless in five games after opening the season at 8-0-1.
San Jose scored what would have been the game winner three minutes into overtime, but the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference.
"It’s huge," said Ladd. "It’s a big win. The way we won, the way we battled back, the late goal. (Ondrej Pavelec) made some big saves for us and we had some key goals from a lot of different guys. It should do a lot for this room and, against a tough team, give us some confidence."
Noel chuckled when it was pointed out to him that his special teams would likely have been wearing the horns for a loss if Ladd hadn’t come up big late in the game.
"We might be talking about that," Noel grinned, "but the fact Andrew scored that goal -- we’ll just stay with Andrew scored a nice goal."
The Jets outshot the Sharks 46-34, the second time in four games Winnipeg has fired over 46 or more shots on their opponent’s goal.
In addition to Clitsome’s three-point night, the Jets also got multi-point nights out of centre Bryan Little (2A) and Ladd (1G, 1A).
Clitsome was asked what the Jets can take from the win over San Jose into their next game Tuesday evening in Detroit against the Red Wings, who Winnipeg defeated 4-2 at MTS Centre last Monday.
"A little positive vibe, maybe a little fun and definitely some momentum," said Clitsome. "I think it’s good now. Guys are starting to get a little bit more confidence. We’re starting to get a little more comfortable playing in tight games. And I think that’s good for us."