Controversial goal propels Wild to 3-2 OT victory over Jets

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ST. PAUL — The Winnipeg Jets feel like they got jobbed. The Minnesota Wild admit they might have got lucky. In the end, one club was fuming and the other was celebrating after a controversial game-winning goal Saturday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/01/2020 (1057 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ST. PAUL — The Winnipeg Jets feel like they got jobbed. The Minnesota Wild admit they might have got lucky. In the end, one club was fuming and the other was celebrating after a controversial game-winning goal Saturday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.

Veteran centre Eric Staal poked home a loose puck on the power play during a scramble in front of the net to give the Wild a 3-2 overtime victory over the Jets. Winnipeg falls to 22-16-4, including just 2-5-2 in their past nine games. Minnesota improves to 20-17-5.

There’s no question Wild forward Zach Parise made contact with Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck just prior to the puck going in, and coach Paul Maurice immediately launched a challenge for goaltender interference. But officials upheld the call following video review, ruling that Parise was pushed into Hellebuyck by Jets defencemen Tucker Poolman and Anthony Bitetto.

CP Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal (12) celebrates his goal on Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck (31) while Winnipeg Jets defenseman Anthony Bittetto (2) and Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) look on with Minnesota Wild defenseman Brad Hunt (77) and Minnesota Wild defenseman Zach Parise in on the play in overtime of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. (Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press)

Whether or not Parise helped his own cause is certainly up for debate. 

“It’s goalie interference all day long for me. There’s not a lot of grey area in that one. But I’m not giving them any money. Not one dime,” a seething Maurice said following the game, choosing to bite his tongue rather than go on a tirade that would likely have the NHL on line one issuing him a hefty fine.

“We’ll deal with the things we can get better at. And try to improve on those. That’s all I got. Anything else is gonna get expensive. Call it a day.”

The same went for several Winnipeg players who outright declined to speak following the game, including Bitetto and Hellebuyck. 

Over in the Minnesota room, Parise told reporters he didn’t think it would count, while Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said he figured it was about a 50-50 proposition.

CP Winnipeg Jets wait for a confirmation of a goal by Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal in overtime of an NHL hockey game. (Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press)

“That was one of those that we didn’t know which way it was going to go and we would’ve had both coaches mad depending on which way they would’ve called. I’m just glad it went in our favour,” said Boudreau.

Adding to Winnipeg’s rage was the fact Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey was hit hard on the numbers into the boards by Kevin Fiala with no penalty call just seconds before Luke Kunin tied the game with 5:30 left to play in the third period. Morrissey, who didn’t even have the puck at the time, was shaken up and went straight to the dressing room for further evaluation, but returned a few minutes later.

“I felt like that was definitely something that could be called. It’s a fast game and I haven’t seen the video. Maybe the refs were obstructed. But I guess I felt like it should have been a penalty. Over the course of the game there’s stuff that gets called, doesn’t get called. There’s nothing you can do,” said Morrissey.

The Jets were also directing some of their post-game anger at themselves. They spent most of the third trying to nurse a one-goal lead, sitting back and spent most of the frame stuck in their own end.

Winnipeg was outshot 16-4 by Minnesota in the final period, and in a sense they were somewhat fortunate to even get it to overtime and salvage a point. And early in overtime, Wheeler got too aggressive in trying to get the puck back from Mats Zuccarello, slashing his stick out of his hand and getting called for the obvious penalty.

CP Winnipeg Jets center Jack Roslovic (28) controls the puck in front of Minnesota Wild left wing Marcus Foligno (17) in the second period. (Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press)

“I haven’t seen a replay of it, so I can only speak from how I felt about it on the ice. (Zuccarello) kind of stumbles a little bit, I don’t think he had a good grip on that stick. I’ve got to make a play on that puck. I don’t want to comment, for sure, because I don’t know exactly how high on the stick I got it. But five-on-five, I think that gets let go,” said Wheeler.

“If he had a better grip on that stick, it’s a nothing play. Maybe the ref got a little fooled by the fact that he lost his stick, moreso than the gravity of the offence.”

Winnipeg’s much-maligned penalty kill had done a tremendous job prior to that, killing off four minors during the game. That included a rarely-called Neal Pionk infraction for playing the puck while still standing in the penalty box as he finished serving two minutes for interference.

“The explanation I got is that you need to feet on the ice before you make contact with the puck or a player with the puck. To be honest, that wasn’t even what I was thinking coming out of the box. I was just looking to play the puck,” said Pionk. “But it is a rule and it’s something I’ve got to be aware of.” 

The Jets also negated a four-minute power play of their own early in the second, which came when Kunin’s stick swatted Mark Scheifele in the face and left him blooded. Almost immediately, Patrik Laine took an interference penalty and Poolman got called for hooking within a span of 18 seconds. Those were definitely self-inflicted wounds.

CP Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellecuyck (37) watches a goal by the Minnesota Wild in the third period as Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) skates by in the third period. (Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press)

The Jets did score twice with the man advantage on Saturday, after Marcus Foligno had scored on the first shot of the game just 72 seconds into the first period. Scheifele tied it with his 20th of the year off a great feed from Wheeler just 39 seconds into the second period, and then Wheeler put the Jets ahead with his 14th just 52 seconds into the third. Jordan Greenway was in the box at the time, serving his team’s second high-sticking double-minor of the day after he cut Bitetto.

“It was a great effort on the power play and the penalty kill. I think our power play is starting to feel it for a while now. We’re starting to see some goals go in consistently. I think everyone knew that was gonna happen eventually with the players that are on that unit,” said Morrissey. 

“That was awesome and then, on our PK, it’s disappointing that the last one ends up being a power play goal for Minnesota, but I think we did a great job. There’s a lot of things there, especially five-on-four, that we can build off of. Big blocked shots and high-level compete by all the guys out there.”

The best penalty killer was Hellebuyck, who was pulled after giving up five goals through two periods against Toronto on Thursday but rebounded with a stellar effort, making 41 saves. Winnipeg fired only 21 pucks at Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk.

“It’s tough to swallow for sure but the most important thing is to learn from it and move on. We’ve got to move right on to the next one because we’ve got a long road trip coming up,” said Pionk.

Minnesota Wild goalie Deva Dubnyk makes a save against Winnipeg Jets left wing Nikolai Ehlers (27) in the second period. (Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press)

This was the start of a four-game journey for the Jets which continues Monday in Montreal, followed by back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto and Boston.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

CP Minnesota Wild Ryan Donato (6) and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Carl Dahlstrom vie for the puck in the first period. (Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press)
CP Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal (12) celebrates with Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) after defeating the Winnipeg Jets in overtime. (Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press)
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.

History

Updated on Saturday, January 4, 2020 4:10 PM CST: Corrects headline: Wild victory

Updated on Saturday, January 4, 2020 5:43 PM CST: Writethru, adds photos

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