Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 13/10/2016 (1666 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Was it Auston Matthews-like? Not quite. But Patrik Laine’s NHL debut Thursday was, indeed, a night to remember for the 18-year-old winger from Tampere, Finland, the Winnipeg Jets and their fans.
Laine, the second-overall pick — after the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped up Matthews — in this summer’s NHL Draft scored his first career goal and added an assist as the Jets stormed back from three goals down in the third period to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 in overtime at the MTS Centre.
The record will show centre Mark Scheifele finished off a 2-on-1 break with Blake Wheeler to fire the winning goal at two minutes, 41 seconds of the extra period. But this was Laine’s night — 24 hours after Matthews set an NHL record with four goals in his first game.
"It was unbelievable. You score the first goal just once, it was just special," said Laine, who recorded a power-play goal with less than seven minutes left in regulation time.
"I was happy with my game before the goal and I think I played pretty well. But it was nice to get the goal and the assist. I was just getting more and more into the game in the third period and after the goal, it was easy to go out there and do my thing and get the confidence back."
Laine’s heroics came late. Much like the rest of the squad, he didn’t have a great first 40 minutes, failing to register a shot while on a line with centre Mathieu Perreault and Kyle Connor as the Jets trailed 3-1.
Winnipeg went down 4-1 early in the final frame, but things changed in a hurry. Wheeler scored his first goal of the season, a short-handed effort, nine seconds after Victor Rask had given Carolina a three-goal lead.
Laine’s rocket of a wrist shot from the point sailed over goalie Cam Ward’s left shoulder and found mesh at 13:13 of the third with the Jets on the power play. (An assist went to fellow rookie Kyle Connor, his first NHL point.) Laine then got a helper of his own on Perreault’s game-tying goal with 1:29 left in regulation and goalie Connor Hellebuyck on the bench for an extra skater.
"I’ve never been part of anything like that," said Laine. "I scored the goal and the crowd was unbelievable and I hope we can keep the streak going and score some more goals."
Laine and Connor were two of four rookies in the Jets lineup. Josh Morrissey was paired with Dustin Byfuglien on the first defensive unit, but had his play limited in the third period. His first-period turnover led to Jeff Skinner’s goal, after Shawn Matthias had given Winnipeg an early lead.
Brandon Tanev, who had just three NHL games on his resumé, skated on the fourth line.
Ex-Jet forward Lee Stempniak and Jordan Staal also scored for Carolina.
"When a young team gets down 4-1, very, very few of them come back. So leadership, Blake’s goal was huge. Patrik’s goal on the power play. What you’ll notice is a perfect shot and a perfect screen from (Drew) Stafford," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "If it was an old, veteran team we’d be talking about their resilience, character and their grit and they never quit. So let’s just apply those to a really young team."
Jets centre Bryan Little left the ice favouring his leg after a collision with Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell midway through the first period. Little tried getting up a couple of times before skating off with the help of teammates and did not return.
Adam Lowry filled in between Matthias and Drew Stafford on the second line for the rest of the first period and much of the second before Scheifele took a few shifts with the duo.
"Losing Bryan (Little)… that’s a big hole for us," said Maurice. "Not having another natural centre to go into the middle, so you ended up running guys a little harder (and) shift lengths got a little bit too long."
In the third period, Maurice tossed all the lines into the blender. Wheeler, a fixture on the right wing, centred Stafford and Tanev for a shift.
There was no update on Little’s condition after the game.
Hellebuyck just OK
Hellebuyck made 23 saves — and a couple were brilliant.
The 23-year-old netminder could be forgiven for allowing Stempniak’s goal-ahead goal on the power play early in the second period. A hard point shot by blue-liner Noah Hanifin caromed off Stempniak’s leg and bounced in at 4:47.
Staal gave the visitors a two-goal cushion with shot through traffic late in the second. Byfuglien’s protest to the officials his stick was being held on the play fell on deaf ears.
Hellebuyck allowed a soft goal at 5:02 of the third with the Jets short-handed when Rask’s shot to the short side dribbled beneath him.
Lack of power
Success or failure on the power play has a major impact on momentum, and the Jets’ failure to capitalize on a lengthy two-man advantage in the first period sparked the Hurricanes to an early lead.
With Winnipeg leading 1-0, Carolina forwards Sebastian Aho and Staal were slapped with minor penalties within 11 seconds of each other. The Jets went on a 5-on-3, moved the puck effectively and created some space for a couple of booming drives. But Wheeler’s blast hit the post and Nik Ehlers rang a shot off the crossbar.
The Hurricanes killed off both penalties and then Skinner tied the game about 80 seconds later.
Winnipeg’s power play finished 1-for-5, while the penalty killers surrendered a pair of goals in four chances by the Hurricanes.
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The Jets paid tribute to a true super-fan Thursday at the MTS Centre.
Before the opening faceoff, the team honoured Len (Kroppy) Kropioski, who died Sept. 13 at the age of 98.
Kroppy was a staple at all Winnipeg home games and much beloved by hockey fans and the True North organization. The Canadian veteran would stand at attention near the glass in the Jets end and salute during the playing of the national anthem and then give a big thumbs-up. He made the trip to Winnipeg from Kenora, Ont., for every Jets home game.
Just before the singing of O Canada, the Jets showed a video montage of Kroppy on the big screen and a military bugler played the Last Post, followed by a minute of silence.
Jason Bell Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).