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This article was published 21/12/2017 (1650 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BOSTON — The Winnipeg Jets showed they can still grind with the best of them but their luck in overtime and shootouts continued to elude them Thursday night.
On this occasion, defenceman Charlie McAvoy scored on Boston’s fourth shot of the shootout to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 triumph over the visitors before 17,565 fans at TD Garden.
In seven games that have gone to extra time, Winnipeg has lost five times in overtime and one of two decisions in shootouts.
"Yeah, we always feel good about a point but it’s happening a little too much to my liking," said Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. "Especially in the shootout. I take shootouts personally and I don’t like losing them and we got a point, but we want more."
David Pastrnak also scored in the shootout for the hosts. Bryan Little had the lone shootout snipe for the Jets, who improved their record to 20-10-6 with the point and pulled into a three-way tie with the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators for top spot in Central Division at 46 points.
Boston, meanwhile, is third in the Atlantic at 18-10-5.
Thursday’s grinding affair was a stage for some sparkling play from the goaltenders. Hellebuyck finished with 32 saves while Boston’s Tuukka Rask, who was among a number of Bruins ailing due to a "food bug," stopped 36 shots.
Torey Krug’s unassisted goal at 8:16 of the third period had given the Bruins a 1-0 lead. The pint-sized blue-liner gobbled up a weak clearing attempt by Adam Lowry and ripped the shot past Hellebuyck.
Fifty-seven seconds later, Patrik Laine evened the game at 1-1, slamming Nikolaj Ehlers’ nifty setup past a diving Rask. Ehlers had been reunited with linemates Laine and Bryan Little after starting the game on Winnipeg’s No. 1 unit with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
"It was a good game from us," said Laine, who was foiled by Rask’s pad in the shootout. "We played really good hockey but as always when it goes to a shootout it’s a whole different game. Today, we didn’t score enough goals in the shootout but at least we got a point."
Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said the switcheroo wasn’t a critique of anyone’s performance.
"I liked their games, so it wasn’t a negative in that," said Maurice. "A little more experience with the Scheif line because we knew (Boston’s No. 1 centre Patrice) Bergeron would play against them — they’re so dangerous. Nikky did some really great things defensively that helped, but we got to a point where we took a little more risk, put a little more offence away from the Bergeron line and it paid off."
Hellebuyck’s top form appears to have returned with a vengeance. He made stellar stops on Bergeron, Brad Marchand and McAvoy during the third period to keep the game close. Rask also excelled.
"We talked about which team was going to crack first, which was going to make that first mistake and it was us," said Jets blue-liner Jacob Trouba. "But we responded really well and came back with a goal in a tight game that could go either way.
"There’s not much to be super disappointed about. It went down to a shootout and that is what it is."
The Jets, who effectively generated scoring chances in Tuesday’s 6-4 win in Nashville, had trouble getting their offence clicking in the first period. Laine had Winnipeg’s best scoring chance of the frame, clanking a power-play wrister off the post from the top of the circle. In fact, the visitors didn’t record a shot on net until Blake Wheeler forced Rask to make a save 8:59 into the game. Both clubs appeared to struggle with heavy ice conditions at TD Garden, which had hosted an NBA game 24 hours earlier.
The middle period was more eventful. Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault was in perfect position to capitalize on a rebound off of Tyler Myers’ point shot but Rask was equal to the task with five minutes left.
Later in the second, it was Hellebuyck’s turn to shine as he turned back Marchand’s drive after a drop pass from Pastrnak with 3:45 remaining and then flashing a big glove to absorb Krug’s hard point shot 2:27 later.
"Both teams were playing good," said Hellebuyck. "Playing that hard, grinding game. Sometimes we run into that game and I’m glad we kept to it and played the right way the entire time."
"I like making the stops, I don’t like watching them at the other end. It was a good game, he played pretty well."
Laine and Rask, fellow Finns, know each other well.
"We had some good chances to score before my goal," said Laine. "It was hard to get the puck past him. He’s a great goalie and it’s always hard to score on him."
Maurice was encouraged by his players’ attention to defensive play.
"When you get into a game like that your first reaction is to open it up or (use) stretch plays we tried in the game that didn’t work when we tried to run ’em," said Maurice. "We were pretty consistent with it. The effort was right, they competed right."
Winnipeg has one more game before the Christmas break, a Saturday matinee at noon against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.
"I don’t really look too far ahead," said Hellebuyck. "I like that start we’re on. I like that we’re winning a lot more than we’re losing but we’ve gotta continue that."NOTEWORTHY – Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play...
David Krejci (upper body) and Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash, both sent home earlier in the day with flu-like symptoms, did not play for the Bruins. Colby Cave was recalled from AHL Providence and suited up for his first NHL game...
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.