Jets collect single point in 4-3 OT loss to Stars

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DALLAS — On the bright side, the Winnipeg Jets rallied from a pair of deficits, including one in the final minute of the game, to at least snag a valuable point on the road. But they let a second one slip away in overtime Friday night, falling 4-3 to the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/02/2022 (300 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

DALLAS — On the bright side, the Winnipeg Jets rallied from a pair of deficits, including one in the final minute of the game, to at least snag a valuable point on the road. But they let a second one slip away in overtime Friday night, falling 4-3 to the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

Jason Robertson scored the winner at 3:10 of the three-on-three session. The Jets had a couple glorious chances in the extra frame to win it, including a Mark Scheifele breakaway right off the hop that Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger barely got his right arm on.

“Their goalie made some big saves. It’s definitely a stinger there,” Scheifele said of his close, but no cigar moment. Pierre-Luc Dubois also muscled his way into scoring position but just shot wide.

CP Winnipeg Jets' Pierre-Luc Dubois is checked into the boards by Dallas Stars defenceman Jani Hakanpaa in the first period Friday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Scheifele had sent the game to extra time by scoring with just 32 seconds remaining regulation and Connor Hellebuyck on the bench for an extra attacker. Winnipeg falls to 19-17-8, while Dallas improves to 25-18-2.

Winnipeg did a lot of good things in this one, especially in the first half of the game as they tried to build off an impressive 2-0 victory on Tuesday night against Minnesota. But as general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said in his mid-season “state of the union” on Wednesday, this is a results-oriented business. And the Jets have to start producing if they want to get back in the playoff picture.

“I thought it was a hard fought game. I like the fact we stayed in it. We did get a point there at the end. But yeah, you always want that extra one, that extra point,” said interim coach Dave Lowry.

The first period was a tentative, tight-checking affair, as both teams seemed more concerned about keeping their own end of the ice neat and tidy rather than generate anything at the other. The result was a bit of a snoozefest, but a perfectly fine “road period” for the Jets. Jamie Benn had a glorious chance to open the scoring, as a loose puck ended up on his stick in the crease with Hellebuyck briefly out of position. But it took a bizarre hop as he shot, sailing over the empty net. Benn couldn’t believe his bad luck, and the Jets were happy to dodge the bullet.

“I think that was the game that we expected. We expected a fast, physical game. There weren’t a lot of big hits but it was a heavy game. I thought we did a really good job of defending, of managing the game,” said Lowry.

CP Dallas Stars defenceman Miro Heiskanen and goaltender Jake Oettinger defend against a shot by Winnipeg Jets centre Dominic Toninato in the first period. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Business picked up in the middle frame.

Winnipeg struck first just 50 seconds in, as Dubois parked his big body in front of the Dallas net and got his stick on a Nate Schmidt point shot. It’s the 19th goal of the year for Dubois, who missed Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Minnesota after testing positive for COVID-19 last weekend at the end of an All-Star break trip to New York The 23-year-old Dubois continues to be a bright spot for Winnipeg this season. He had just eight goals in 41 games with the Jets last year following the blockbuster trade from Columbus. The pending restricted free agent is in for a big payday this summer.

As the game hit the midway mark, the Jets were doing a stellar defensive job. But then it briefly came unravalled. First, Jacob Peterson went hard to Winnipeg’s net-front, evading an Andrew Copp check and getting his skate on a pass attempt from Alexander Radulov. This time, the home team got a favourable bounce as it eluded Hellebuyck at 10:46.

Dallas took its first lead just 56 seconds later, as a poor Neal Pionk pinch and a Scheifele back-check that was a tad too late ended with an odd-man rush and a Tyler Seguin goal.

“I think we got ourselves in a little bit of trouble just by not getting pucks in deep. And we fuelled their transition game, allowed them to get some momentum. But I thought we had some good answers,” said Lowry.

CP Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stretches but is unable to stop a second-period goal by the Dallas Stars. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Indeed, they didn’t let a brief lapse completely bite them. A nifty, high-speed zone entry which included a couple nice passes from Scheifele and rookie Cole Perfetti left Jansen Harkins all alone in the slot, and he ripped a wrist shot past Oettinger for his fifth of the year.

“Obviously, you want to be able to go out there and try to make a difference,” said Harkins, who was bumped up midway through the game to play with Dubois and Kyle Connor. His goal came on a blended shift, of sorts.

“Obviously, playing more shifts and more minutes, that’s a good opportunity for me to do that and two world class players,” he said. “They just make the game pretty, pretty fun so, I mean it’s fun for me to go out there and try to chip in with those guys.”

It wasn’t just the offence that increased during the second period. The intensity did as well, with the Central Division rivals exchanging plenty of big hits.

Tempers boiled over late in the frame when Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon crushed Stars blue-liner John Klingberg with a heavy, open-ice hit. One of the silliest “unwritten rules” in hockey then played out, with Dillon being forced to drop the gloves and answer for a perfectly legal play. It was Benn who stood up for his teammate, and the two engaged in a spirited scrap.

CP Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele and winger Jansen Harkins celebrate a second-period goal Friday. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Dillon has been a bit of an assassin on skates lately. He blew up Roope Hintz with a check earlier in the game, and sparked a melee against the Wild earlier this week after catching Marcus Foligno in the trolley-tracks. Opponents best beware and have their heads on a swivel when he’s on the ice.

Things looked bleak for the Jets when Benn re-directed a puck past Hellebuyck at 12:47 of the third period, completing his Gordie Howe hat trick. But then came Scheifele’s tying tally in the final minute. Dallas failed to clear the zone, and Scheifele made them pay with a wicked wrister from just inside the blue-line for his 12th of the year.

“I don’t know the last time we worked on six-on-five, but we’ve got a lot of guys who are (familiar) with each other. We have guys that have played together,” Scheifele said of the clutch goal that spared his squad from squandering a decent effort and leaving town empty-handed.

That set the stage for the dramatic overtime session.

“Just disappointing I think. I mean, frustrated. Obviously you want to win and I think it’s a bit more just disappointing, clawing your way back and a big goal at the end there to tie it up,” said Harkins. “I think we were pretty resilient all night, just sticking with it. Obviously you want to kind of squeak out one at the end there and it’s just an (expletive) way to lose.”

CP Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn and Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon chuck knuckles in the second period. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Hellebuyck finished the game with 31 saves, while Oettinger also turned 31 pucks aside. Winnipeg went 0-for-1 on the power play, while Dallas was given four chances by the men in stripes but came up empty, thanks to tenacious Jets penalty kill.

The club chartered to Nashville immediately after the game, and they’ll conclude this quick but important road trip by facing the Predators on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.

 

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

CP Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson, centre Jacob Peterson, and right wing Alexander Radulov celebrate a second-period goal against the Winnipeg Jets Friday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
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 Friday, February 11, 2022 10:41 PM CST: Adds photos

Updated on Friday, February 11, 2022 11:34 PM CST: Full write through. Adds quotes.

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