Roslovic scores twice to power Jets past Blackhawks 4-3 in OT

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CHICAGO — It wasn't very pretty. It was far from perfect. But it definitely served a purpose.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/04/2019 (1339 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

CHICAGO — It wasn’t very pretty. It was far from perfect. But it definitely served a purpose.

The Winnipeg Jets snapped a three-game losing streak — and avoided falling into a three-way tie for the Central Division lead — with a much-needed 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night at the United Center. 

Trade-deadline addition Kevin Hayes was the hero, scoring the winner in a wild three-on-three session that saw both teams trade multiple chances.

(AP Photo/Matt Marton) Winnipeg Jets left wing Kyle Connor fights for the puck against Chicago Blackhawks Brendan Perlini and Connor Murphy during the first period Monday in Chicago.

“It’s really good. Especially because the coach was screaming at him to get off the ice for about 30 seconds until he went down and scored. So I love the confidence,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said following the game.

Winnipeg improves to 46-29-4 and remains on top of the Central, two points ahead of idle Nashville and St. Louis, which beat Colorado Monday night in a shootout. All three teams have three games remaining, and the Jets own the tiebreakers over both by having more regulation and overtime wins. 

“We know we’re going into some pretty meaningful games here in a couple weeks. You don’t ever want to leave it that tight, but it’s good to know we can do that as a team and we can finish in crunch time,” said Jets forward Jack Roslovic, who had a pair of goals while skating on the fourth line.

The Jets had played three stinkers in a row — a lacklustre loss to Dallas, a late-game meltdown against the New York Islanders and a mail-it-in effort against Montreal — and were in desperate search of a better effort.

They got it against a Blackhawks club that began the night fighting for their playoff lives.

“They have elite players on that team and when you get three-on-three, there’s a lot of open ice. We’ve got some good guys on our team and they’ve got some good guys on their team, they make some fancy plays on that team,” said Hayes, who had never scored an overtime winner in his NHL career.

(AP Photo/Matt Marton) Winnipeg Jets centre Jack Roslovic celebrates his goal with defenceman Tyler Myers during the second period Monday in Chicago.

“I didn’t really have any options. I’m a pass-first player and it was the end of my shift there. I thought I could take it to the net and I got a step on whoever it was,” said Hayes.

“It’s fun. Ultimately we got the two points and that’s what we came here to do. It’s ultimately one step towards finishing in first place.”

It didn’t start off so well, as Winnipeg native and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews opened the scoring 4:25 into the game with his team on the power play. His shot deflected off Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba and past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, giving Toews a career-high 77 points on the season. He later added an assist to get up to 78.

Adam Lowry evened it up just past the midway mark, as his wrist shot from a bit of an odd angle beat Hawks netminder Corey Crawford up high. Lowry now has 12 goals on the season, including three in the past three games.

Roslovic gave the visitors the lead with just 34 seconds left in the first period, banking a shot in off Crawford for his eighth of the year. It’s the first goal for Roslovic since he had a hat trick against Anaheim on Feb. 2.

Roslovic struck again just over five minutes into the middle frame, finishing off a three-way passing play with linemates Andrew Copp and Mathieu Perreault. That line was buzzing all night.

(AP Photo/Matt Marton) Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien keeps the puck away from Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Erik Gustafsson during the first period.

“They were really good. They were the one line that were structured and technically played a strong game. They did simple things really fast and got really good opportunities because they played in the right end,” said Maurice.

“When they were in our end they were sorted and they handled any pressure that they faced very, very well. If you’re showing video of how you want your team to play, you want to take that line (Monday night) and show that one.”

Dylan Strome made it a one-goal game just over a minute after Roslovic scored. Jets defenceman Nathan Beaulieu misplayed a puck and gave Strome a clear path to the net, where he beat Hellebuyck.

Winnipeg appeared to increase its lead to 4-2 with three minutes left in the third period as Mark Scheifele scored, but Chicago successfully challenged that Blake Wheeler had gone offside seconds earlier. It was a tough night for Scheifele, who also missed on a penalty shot earlier in the game after Toews slashed him on a breakaway.

And that turned out to be a huge development, as Strome scored his second of the night with just 2:20 remaining and Crawford pulled for an extra attacker.  

(AP Photo/Matt Marton) Winnipeg Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba and Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat fight for the puck during the second period.

The goal at least saved Chicago’s season for another night, as they avoided being eliminated from playoff contention by getting the game to overtime. But they’ll need to win their last three and get all kinds of help to avoid being on the outside looking in for a second straight spring.

“We reacted right away and we were pretty excited. That’s a big goal, a two-goal lead with that much time left, we think we can lock it down there. We kind of knew right away that it was going to be overturned. I don’t think there was any sag. They’re a team that doesn’t quit. We knew that they were going to keep coming,” said Lowry

“It’s important that when you give up a goal like that, that you don’t let it take away from the rest of the game.”

It was a wild overtime, with both Roslovic and Laine being stopped on breakaways before Hayes won it by going hard to the net and stuffing the puck past Crawford.

“It feels like we haven’t been in one in a while. I thought for a stretch in the NHL, the games that I’ve been watching, they’ve looked like they’ve gotten bogged down. That certainly was not bogged down,” said Maurice.

The Jets continue the road trip tonight in St. Paul against the Minnesota Wild, whose playoff chances are also hanging by a thread and need to win out to have any hope. Then it’s on to Denver and Glendale for games against Colorado and Arizona to wrap up the regular season.

(AP Photo/Matt Marton) Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine and Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Gustav Forsling chase a loose puck during the first period.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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Updated on Monday, April 1, 2019 11:39 PM CDT: Full write through, adds post-game quotes.

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