Bruins rally to beat Jets 3-2


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BOSTON — The Winnipeg Jets have proven capable of hanging with the NHL’s heavy hitters. The Jets entered Thursday’s road game against the Boston Bruins first in the Western Conference, at least when it comes to winning percentage, and have been near or atop the Central Division for much of their 32 games this year.

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BOSTON — The Winnipeg Jets have proven capable of hanging with the NHL’s heavy hitters. The Jets entered Thursday’s road game against the Boston Bruins first in the Western Conference, at least when it comes to winning percentage, and have been near or atop the Central Division for much of their 32 games this year.

But the Bruins are a different beast altogether. And while Winnipeg battled hard, including a strong start that put them up 2-0 before the night was eight minutes old, it proved to be a game of attrition, with Boston rallying to earn a 3-2 victory in front of 17,850 at TD Garden.

“We knew how big this game was. We knew it was going to be a measuring stick between two really good teams,” Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon said. “Obviously, we got the start we wanted. A little bit of penalty trouble there in the second and they got some momentum and then a breakdown on their game-winning goal.”

With the loss, the Jets drop to 21-11-1, one point behind the Dallas Stars for tops in the Division, with Winnipeg holding one game in hand. The Bruins improved to 26-4-2 and continue their dominance on home ice, where they’ve earned a point in all 20 games (18-0-2) this year.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this one…

1) It was a dream start for the Jets, who were able to silence the home crowd in the early goings with a pair of goals before the midway mark of the first.

Mark Scheifele opened the scoring 1:58 into the game with his 20th of the season. Scheifele converted a pass from rookie Cole Perfetti in front and with one smooth motion, moved the puck to his forehand to beat Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman.

Jansen Harkins then made it 2-zip minutes later with a tip in front for his third of the season. There were some cracks during the first 20 minutes, to be sure, but given the opponent, it was arguably the best start of the year for Winnipeg, making the loss that much harder to swallow.

2) It’s the kind of streaking that won’t land you in a jail cell. Nonetheless, Josh Morrissey has been letting it all out this season. Seems like every time he touches the puck good things happen.

The Jets defenceman extended his current point streak to 11 games with an assist on Harkins’ goal, tying him with four other players for the second-longest run of points in franchise history, four games short of former Jet Patrik Laine, who went 15 games with a point during the 2017-18 season.

Morrissey also added to his point streak on the road, which is now at 10 games, tying Mark Scheifele and Neal Pionk for the most in club history, both of whom set the record last season. One more for the road: Morrissey’s 11 consecutive games with an assist moves the 27-year-old into a seven-way tie for the sixth-longest streak in NHL history, six back of Paul Coffey (1985-86).

Morrissey moved back into being the Jets leading scorer, too, with 39 points (6G, 33A) in 33 games, one more than Pierre-Luc Dubois.

3) For a while there it looked like nothing was going to beat Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who was perfect through the first half of the game before some horrible puck luck ended the bid for his fourth shutout of the season.

It almost seemed fitting, if not for being downright depressing for Jets fans to witness, how the Bruins got on the scoreboard seconds after the 12-minute mark of the second. David Pastrnak pounced on a Nick Foligno dump-in that took a bounce off the end boards, leaving the Bruins top scorer with a wide-open net for Pastrnak’s team-leading 22nd goal of the season.

“All six of us (on the ice), including Helly, are looking at each other, like, draw that play up 100 times and maybe it happens once,” Dillon said.

Hellebuyck had been stellar to that point – and put in a strong effort the rest of the game – including stopping a pair of giveaways from defenceman Dylan Samberg that led to Bruin breakaways. The Jets netminder was also the team’s best penalty killer, particularly during a Boston man advantage early in the second, a series of two minutes where the Jets couldn’t clear the zone for the life of them.

But put the Bruins, who entered the game ranked third in the NHL, clicking at 29.7 per cent, on enough power plays and eventually it’s going to burn you, which is what happened minutes after Boston’s first goal, as Jake DeBrusk evened the game on the team’s third of four trips with the man advantage, tipping a pass from Pastrnak over the glove of Hellebuyck.

The tying goal shifted the momentum heavily in favour of the Bruins, who outshot the Jets 17-6 in the second period, setting up a spirited third period.

“Helly has been the backbone of this team all year,” Mark Scheifele said. “It would’ve been nice to capitalize on a few more of those and get a few more shifts in the O-zone and test them a little bit.”

4) There was more than just a feeling that the Bruins would eventually pull this one out. Recent history was certainly on their side.

It’s impressive enough that Boston had a league-best goal differential of plus-54, but it’s almost unthinkable when you consider how much of that is from their third period, a period they’ve outdueled the competition 46-19.

Foligno would end up playing the hero, finding himself all alone in the slot before firing a shot past the glove of Hellebuyck at the 11:08 mark. The Jets were unable to muster much from there, running out of gas much like they did Sunday against the Seattle Kraken.

“We talked about it after the game, that’s the best team in the league right now, and we battled them right to the end,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “That’s all you can ask.”

5) The Jets aren’t in the business of making excuses, but it’s hard not to see there was a clear advantage for the Bruins in this one as far as overall health.

The Jets are banged up, with Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler, Mason Appleton, Saku Maenalanen, Nate Schmidt and Logan Stanley all currently sidelined. The Bruins were at full health, with not a single player listed on their injury report.

“When you’re the best team in the league and they’re all healthy, then that’s good for them, lucky for them,” said Bowness. “We’re banged up, obviously. We’re not making any excuses.”

It’s been a busy month for the Jets, who are in the midst of completing a stretch of 16 games in 30 days in December. Winnipeg has a quick turnaround, with the second game of their back-to-back against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena Friday before heading on a three-day holiday break.

Twitter: @jeffkhamilton

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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