Sharks take bite out of Jets 2-1 in OT

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SAN JOSE – For a minute, it looked like the Winnipeg Jets might just pull a rabbit out their hats for a third straight game.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/10/2021 (396 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SAN JOSE – For a minute, it looked like the Winnipeg Jets might just pull a rabbit out their hats for a third straight game.

But unlike the 4-3 win in Anaheim on Tuesday, where Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice over a 19-second span in the dying minutes to edge the Ducks, or the 3-2 victory over the L.A. Kings Thursday that also included a third-period comeback, the Jets had no magic left Saturday night.

Timo Meier scored 1:07 into overtime, banking a shot off the skate of Jets defenceman Logan Stanley and over the shoulder of goalie Connor Hellebuyck to seal a 2-1 win for the San Jose Sharks. Just minutes earlier, late in the third period, the Jets had tied the game when Kyle Connor put home a Nikolaj Ehlers rebound that was set up by a pass to the slot by Pierre-Luc Dubois.

San Jose Sharks' congratulate goaltender James Reimer (47) after defeating the Winnipeg Jets' during NHL hockey action in San Jose, California,, Saturday, October 30, 2021. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

The tying goal late in the game made up for a mostly sluggish effort through the first two periods. Winnipeg found a new level in the third period, especially in the last half of the frame, but an interference penalty on Ehlers put away any chance of earning a second point.

“It just wasn’t good enough for the first couple of periods,” Jets defenceman Neal Pionk said after the game. “The third period, we found a way to tie it up and salvage a point, but that can’t continue the rest of the year if we want to get to where we want to be going.”

With the loss, the Jets four-game win streak came to an end and they now sit at 4-2-2 on the season, collecting five of a possible six points on the road trip. The Sharks, who opened the year with four straight wins, snapped an ensuing three-game losing streak with the victory to improve to 5-3-0.

Compounding the loss was the fact the Sharks had seven players enter the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols prior to puck drop, delaying the game by 15 minutes. Forwards Andrew Cogliano, Jonathan Dahlen, Matt Nieto and defencemen Erik Karlsson, Jake Middleton, Radim Simek, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were all scratched from the lineup. They were replaced by five player’s from the San Jose Barracuda, the teams American Hockey League affiliate, including two forwards and three defence.

Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner was also placed into the league’s protocol, resulting in Sharks assistant coach John MacLean to run the bench, with assistant coach Mike Ricci inserted as well.

Winnipeg Jets' Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) with his eye on the puck in front of San Jose Sharks’ goaltender James Reimer (47) during the first period. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

It appeared to be an ideal advantage for a tired Jets team at the end of a road trip, and it looked that way early on, with Winnipeg getting off to an early push. But that momentum shifted in favour of the home club, with the Sharks generating several quality chances over the course of the opening 20 minutes.

“We weren’t really good tonight, so we weren’t happy with it,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said.

“The game of hockey, that’s the beauty of this thing, is it demands certain things for you to have a chance to earn a win. They were better at those things than we were. We put up 70-ish, even-strength shot attempts, which is a freakishly high number. So, we had some chances. But there’d be lots of games that you analyze over this year. This will not be one of them.”

Hellebuyck had to bail his team out — a theme for much of this road trip — in the first two periods. He was faced with several odd-man rushes, including a pair of chances in tight from Nick Bonino.

Rudolfs Balcers managed to sneak in behind the Jets defence and Meier was sprung in alone from Winnipeg’s blue line, both of whom were turned aside by Hellebuyck. The Jets had their chances, too, including a near goal in the first period by Blake Wheeler, who returned to the lineup after missing the last four games while completing a 10-day quarantine as part of the leagues COVID-19 protocol.

Winnipeg Jets' Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) swipes at the puck in front of San Jose Sharks’ goaltender James Reimer (47) during the first period. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Sharks might have been snake bitten in the first period, but they wasted little time in the second, taking a 1-0 lead just 54 seconds into the frame. Hertl scored his third of the season, banging home a rebound off a Meier shot in close, with Alexander Barabanov earning the other assist.

With nearly one-third of their roster made up of players from the AHL, the Sharks continued to dictate the play for most of the second period. That forced head coach Maurice to bring out the line blender, moving Ehlers from the second line up to the top line with Dubois and Connor, and Wheeler from the third trio to the second with Paul Stastny and Andrew Copp. That left a third line of Adam Lowry, Kristian Vesalainen and Evgeny Svechnikov.

The Jets got close to tying the game, when Ehlers got a chance off the rush but was tripped up with no penalty called, then Dubois ripped a shot off the post. The second period was another 20 minutes of evidence that the Jets collective tank was on low.

“It’s just one of those things where we just have to find a way to get our legs earlier in the game,” Jets forward Adam Lowry said.

“You can’t hope for (Hellebuyck) and one or two players to keep you in the game until the rest of us show up. It’s one of those things where it’s a learning experience for us, to find out if you don’t have it in the first five minutes, it’s about finding a way to be effective, to find a way to contribute in other aspects. Like I said, it’s a good learning experience for us.”

CP Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) blocks a shot on goal during the first period. (D. Ross Cameron / The Associated Press)

The Jets return home for seven straight home games, beginning Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Winnipeg Jets' Evgeny Svechnikov (71) battles with San Jose Sharks’ Mario Ferraro (38) in front of goaltender James Reimer (47) during the first period. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Jets' Paul Stastny (25) battles with San Jose Sharks’ Lane Pederson (18) during the first period. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)
CP San Jose Sharks left wing Alexander Barabanov (94) and Winnipeg Jets left wing Nikolaj Ehlers (27) collide while pursuing the puck during the third period. (D. Ross Cameron / The Associated Press)
Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers (27) celebrates with Kyle Connor (81) after he scored on San Jose Sharks' goaltender James Reimer (47) with Lane Pederson (18) and Mario Ferraro (38) on the ice during the third period. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Jets' head coach Paul Maurice walks off the ice as the San Jose Sharks' celebrate their overtime win against the Jets. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)
Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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