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This article was published 10/11/2019 (241 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Jets have been clocking a lot of overtime this season — and that seems to suit the hockey club just fine.
Mark Scheifele scored 21 seconds into the three-on-three skills session Sunday afternoon to give the Jets a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars at Bell MTS Place. Winnipeg improves to 10-7-1, with four of those wins coming in overtime and two more in a shootout. Dallas falls to 8-8-2.
The ninth OT winner of Scheifele's career came on a two-on-rush with linemate Kyle Connor and gives him a share of the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise record in that department, along with Ilya Kovalchuk. Defenceman Josh Morrissey set him up seconds earlier.
"We’re really comfortable. For me, especially, I get to play with Morrissey. When you’ve got a guy like that on the back end who’s making the plays, it’s pretty nice," Scheifele said of having a game go beyond the regulation 60 minutes.
"At first I thought (Dallas defenceman Miro) Heiskanen was going to come over a little more and I was going to go into the triangle to KC, but he kinda backed off a little bit and I thought I’d just shoot it."
The Jets are now 4-0-1 over the past five games and have jumped into a wildcard playoff position. They're also a perfect 3-0-0 against Central Division opponents this season.
"It’s definitely a bigger game. We’ve got a couple rivals in there, just with teams we’ve played playoff series with, and teams that we see so often. It’s going to be tight again this year, it’s tight every year. So we know how important these games are," said forward Andrew Copp, who erased a 2-1 deficit by scoring early in the third period,
"We’re going to see a lot of these teams coming up in the next month, two months. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re winning these games and getting ahead of these teams as much as we can."
Goalie Connor Hellebuyck was solid once again, making 26 stops. And the Jets got some solid special teams contributions, with a power play goal by Patrik Laine to open the scoring, and a flawless kill of their only penalty of the day, which came in the third period with the score tied.
After a terrible start to the year when down a man, Winnipeg has now killed 13 of their last 14 penalties over a seven-game span, including eight consecutive.
"I think we’re gaining confidence right now on the kill. I think we’re trying to be aggressive when we can be aggressive. The guys that kill are quick players and have good sticks. I think when you get into a bit of a rut on the kill, you start to sit back on your heels and allow them to set up a little bit cleaner than maybe you would if you’ve got some confidence. And ultimately, our goalie is our best penalty killer, so he’s been really good," said captain Blake Wheeler.
The Jets are also helping the cause by being the least-penalized club in the league, and their good behaviour was on display once again Sunday with just the one sin, a tripping minor by Dmitry Kulikov.
"I think we went from the most penalized my first couple years to now we’re the least. I don’t know what the reasoning is for that, but it’s important not to give the other team a lot of power play chances. Especially when our kill was struggling at the beginning of the season. Now that we’re figuring that out, it’s become somewhat of a strength in terms of not letting them get on the power play. And when they do, we’ve had some success on the PK," said Copp.
Laine's power play goal, with just 27 seconds left in the first period, was a missile to the top right corner that beat Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin. It was the first goal in 11 games for Laine, and just his fourth of the year.
It came against the team he's had more success against in his career than any other. Laine now has 16 goals (and five assists) in 14 games against the Stars.
"Those guys need to feel that, to get on a confident roll and you’ve got to have one go. It wasn’t a knuckler. That was vintage Patty. Nobody’s stopping that. You can stay net front, you’ve got to stay net front but on that one, stepping off to the side is the smartest thing to do. Good for him," said coach Paul Maurice.
Winnipeg failed to carry the momentum over to the middle frame. Mattias Janmark tied the game at 5:22, and Radek Faksa gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at 10:27.
"The first two periods really... it’s a grinder. It’s hard on every puck. They’ve got a real veteran team, I think average age is 29. So they’ve learned to be hard on sticks, hard on pucks. So there wasn’t a lot of easy movement for two periods to feel that," said Maurice.
The Jets picked it up and began to pour it on in the final period, as Copp tied it up at 1:52 when he buried a rebound off a Tucker Poolman shot for his third goal of the year.
"I think we’ve proved to ourselves that we can come back in any game this year. Any game where we’re down a goal or two goals, it doesn’t really matter how much time is left. We have the confidence we can do it. We’ve done it before. I don’t think there’s any real panic in our room when we get down a goal, we know the firepower that we have," said Copp.
The trio of Copp, along with Adam Lowry and Mathieu Perreault, had a particularly strong game, spending extended time in the Dallas end and wearing out the opponent.
"That line had that game figured out early, that you put it to the net every opportunity you can and then you’re looking for those bobbled pucks. When they were on, they did that. They were really focused in how to generate offence and they’re built to do that," said Maurice.
With nothing settled in regulation, the stage was set for Scheifele's heroics. Winnipeg is now an impressive 5-5-0 when trailing after two periods this year.
"We have confidence in all situations at this point. We’ve come back from four down and won a hockey game (In New Jersey, second game of the year). I think the best thing is when we’re down a goal we don’t change our game, we don’t cheat the game, we don’t stretch or do things that aren’t in our DNA," said Wheeler.
"The game-tying goal is a perfect example of that. Throw a puck to the net from a bad angle, bounces around to our guy’s tape and he buries it. That says it all right there."
Winnipeg wraps the four-game homestand on Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.
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Updated on Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 5:20 PM CST: Writethru with quotes