Another late blow kills Jets

Toews’ marker in final minute a heartbreaker

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How many late-game heartbreaks can a team take and survive? We’ll have the answer in 12 days.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/03/2015 (2799 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

How many late-game heartbreaks can a team take and survive? We’ll have the answer in 12 days.

Sunday night’s conclusion at the MTS Centre makes the survival part all the tougher for the Winnipeg Jets, losing 4-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks on a deflected goal by Jonathan Toews with just 30.8 seconds left in regulation time.

The Jets had leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in this pond-hockey-ish Central Division tilt, but for the third time since Christmas, watched valuable points go out the window in the dying moments of the third period.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets Lee Stempniak (20) takes a shot on Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford (50) during first period action Sunday at the MTS Centre.

Rewind to Jan. 5 here against San Jose, when the Sharks scored with five seconds to play to win 3-2.

With 1:03 to go in a game March 10 at St. Louis, Barret Jackman netted a floater from just outside the blue-line to shoot down the Jets 5-4.

And then Sunday happened. In addition to the last-minute pain, the result was teed up by Patrick Sharp’s unassisted goal in the third period at 6:27, making it 3-3.

Unassisted that is, ignoring the tangle Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom found himself in with linesman Don Henderson, who inadvertently relieved Enstrom of his stick in the neutral zone. That paved the way for an unimpeded Sharp to beat Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” said Paul Maurice, the Jets coach, who gave a quiet-but-steaming, 90-second news conference after his team dropped to 39-25-12. “You saw what happened. I’m sure they’re going to feel that the linesman feels worse than anybody in the building but I would highly doubt that.”

Asked if he was angry — his body language certainly suggested it — Maurice added: “It’s like an injury. You’re angry when it happens but there isn’t anything you can do about it.”

 

What it means

The defeat temporarily scuttled the Jets’ bid Sunday to solidify their Western Conference grip on the second wild-card spot. This morning, with 90 points and just six games until the finish line, they wake up to find the Los Angeles Kings two points behind them in that chase. Winnipeg remains one point back of the Vancouver Canucks, five back of Minnesota and six back of the Hawks, who improved to 96 points at 45-24-6.

This season, the Jets won all three games between the teams in Chicago and the Hawks won both in Winnipeg, the earlier one 2-1 in overtime.

 

Unlucky is a good word

The Jets had a pair of goals from Dustin Byfuglien, both on the power play and a short-handed marker by Blake Wheeler as they outshot the Hawks 34-24.

But Chicago certainly made the most of its shots, apart from another handful of chances they bumbled or shot wide.

David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press Perreault (#85) during practice at the MTS Centre Saturday March 28, 2015.

“I thought we had the better of the play,” Wheeler said. “It was just one of those things. We’ve just got to deal with it.”

Asked if his team was unlucky, Wheeler bristled.

“What do you think?” he said. “It looked like it. It felt like it. We worked our tails off tonight. It’s what we do every night. Up 3-2 with not a whole lot of time left in the game, we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves. Momentum definitely shifted on that goal a little bit. It’s definitely not easy to bounce back from those types of situations but we’re going to have to find a way.

“I feel bad for (Enstrom) and I feel mad that has to happen. It shouldn’t happen that way, but it’s part of the game.”

 

Perreault returns

Mathieu Perreault returned from the injured list, having missed 16 games, and looked to be well on his way to good form.

Maurice used Perreault on the fourth line Sunday night for seven minutes 13 seconds of five-on-five time and another 1:27 on the power play.

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Sunday, March 29, 2015 7:20 PM CDT: Updates score.

Updated on Sunday, March 29, 2015 9:06 PM CDT: Updates score.

Updated on Sunday, March 29, 2015 9:27 PM CDT: CP writethru, adds sildeshow.

Updated on Sunday, March 29, 2015 10:40 PM CDT: Local writethru.

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