March 22, 2019

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Record: 44 – 26 – 4

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Winnipeg Jets (44 – 26 – 4)

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Enough red lights to start traffic jam

Sharks, Jets score goals in bunches

The Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks lit the lamp nine times Tuesday, but such isn't necessarily a recipe for success for a Jets team missing three of its top defencemen.</p><p>TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS</p>

The Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks lit the lamp nine times Tuesday, but such isn't necessarily a recipe for success for a Jets team missing three of its top defencemen.

TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Two of the NHL’s most potent offences put the goaltenders on high alert at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday night.

The San Jose Sharks scored three goals on their first 16 shots before Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped nine in a row to finish the second period. Two of those early San Jose markers squeezed through after Hellebuyck got a piece of the shot.

The visitors got a go-ahead goal early in the third period when Marcus Sorensen snapped Joe Thornton’s setup past Hellebuyck. It was another perfect play on the game-winner when Joe Pavelski rifled Timo Meier’s perfect feed past Hellebuyck with 4.3 seconds left in regulation.

But Hellebuyck put the Jets in position to tie the game late with some excellent work earlier in the third, robbing Thornton and Gustav Nyquist on rapid-fire chances during a San Jose power play, and then denying Pavelski on a dangerous one-timer with 2:57 remaining.

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Two of the NHL’s most potent offences put the goaltenders on high alert at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday night.

The San Jose Sharks scored three goals on their first 16 shots before Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped nine in a row to finish the second period. Two of those early San Jose markers squeezed through after Hellebuyck got a piece of the shot.

The visitors got a go-ahead goal early in the third period when Marcus Sorensen snapped Joe Thornton’s setup past Hellebuyck. It was another perfect play on the game-winner when Joe Pavelski rifled Timo Meier’s perfect feed past Hellebuyck with 4.3 seconds left in regulation.

But Hellebuyck put the Jets in position to tie the game late with some excellent work earlier in the third, robbing Thornton and Gustav Nyquist on rapid-fire chances during a San Jose power play, and then denying Pavelski on a dangerous one-timer with 2:57 remaining.

The Jets preferred not to dwell on the loss. Hellebuyck was unavailable for comment following the game.

"It’s frustrating," Jets defenceman Ben Chiarot said. "I mean, (it’s) regular season. Especially this late, you just kinda wash it off and get to the next one. You’ve got good teams coming in, top teams, the next couple of days, so we’ll have to forget about this one."

Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell didn’t fare much better, beaten on Andrew Copp’s redirection of Chiarot’s point shot for Winnipeg’s first goal, and victimized by a Bryan Little shot that banked in off of Sharks blue-liner Justin Braun to give the hosts a shortlived 2-1 lead during the opening frame.

"I liked the way we played," Chiarot said. "It’s two of the top teams in the league going at it. There’s going to be chances back and forth. They just capitalized on the last one of the game, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.

"You don’t like to lose to them in that fashion, but it’s going to happen a couple of times a year where you get sorta kicked in the groin that way," Chiarot said. "Like I said, you take the good things that we did. It was a good game all the way through. They get the last bounce, and it goes their way."

ROUGH RIDE FOR WHEELER: Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler left the game twice due to injury in the third period, first going down after being inadvertently struck in the face by a referee with his hand outstretched and shortly thereafter when he appeared to take an elbow to the head from San Jose’s Logan Couture.

Wheeler was not available for the post-game media availability, but Jets head coach Paul Maurice said he was, "fine," when asked about his condition.

Couture wasn’t penalized on the play.

"It was an elbow to the head... it was a mandatory head check," Maurice said.

CLOSE SHAVE: Jets defenceman Tyler Myers escaped a significant injury early in Sunday’s game in Washington when he was struck in the midsection by T.J. Oshie’s errant skate.

Myers took a hard body blow but recovered quickly and went on to log 19:56 of ice time, the second-highest total among Winnipeg defenceman.

"I didn’t really see it until I felt it," Myers said Tuesday. "But luckily, it was mainly the boot that caught me, not the blade. I knew pretty quick it wasn’t a cut, so it didn’t scare me too much. It just kinda hurt."

BACK TO AHL? Maurice would not comment on a Finnish media report that left-winger Kristian Vesalainen, one of the organization’s top prospects, will be returning to North America after spending most of the 2018-19 season with Jokerit of the KHL.

Jokerit was recently eliminated from the playoffs and it is believed the 19-year-old Vesalainen could finish the season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

Vesalainen registered one assist in five games with the Jets to start the season, and added three goals and eight points in eight games with the Moose before opting to sign with Jokerit, where he tallied six goals and 17 points in 31 games.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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