The Winnipeg Jets showed for the better part of 2 1/2 periods they could swim with the big fish. But even though the good outweighed the bad, a late-game collapse will have this night remembered mostly as the one that got away.

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The Winnipeg Jets showed for the better part of 2 1/2 periods they could swim with the big fish. But even though the good outweighed the bad, a late-game collapse will have this night remembered mostly as the one that got away.

The MTS Centre rocked hard Monday as Winnipeg went toe-to-toe with the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks. But that seemingly constant roar from the home crowd came to a sudden halt midway through the third period when the Sharks broke a 1-1 game with seconds remaining on a Jets’ power play en route to a 3-2 win.

The short-handed goal came seven minutes and 26 seconds into the third period. Sharks forward Mikkel Boedker was sprung in on a breakaway after intercepting a cross-ice pass by rookie Patrik Laine. He’d make a quick  move with the puck before firing it past Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck for his ninth of the year.

"We played hard. We did a lot of the right things," said Jets rookie defenceman Josh Morrissey. "I mean, it comes down to little bounces. Little details in games. Obviously we would’ve liked to close it out the right way in the third but our game’s in a really good place for us right now. There’s no sense dwelling on this, we have to move onto the next one. It’s going to be a tough test again."

The Jets continue their season-high six-game homestand Wednesday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Boedker’s goal was the first of three goals in the final period, with the Sharks adding an empty-net marker from Joe Pavelski — his second of the night and eventual game-winner — with 26 seconds to go in the third. Mark Scheifele could cut the lead to 3-2 with his 28th of the season, but with just seven seconds left in the game it was too little, too late.

"We had our chances. There were stretches of play where we controlled and they had stretches where they controlled," Jets forward Adam Lowry said. "Unfortunate break there at the end that they get the short-handed goal to kind of take the lead, but I think we fought hard till the end."

For the first time in four games — and 27th time this season — the Jets gave up the first goal in a game. Pavelski scored his 22nd of the season midway through the first period, evading Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net before shovelling the puck into an empty cage.

The Jets are now 9-12-6 when an opponent scores first.

Hellebuyck, making his 11th straight start in net, had allowed just one goal in the two previous games. But he had little chance to make the stop on Pavelski. He had already turned aside two pucks, including an acrobatic save with his stick that ricocheted in front to Pavelski.

Winnipeg evened the score just minutes later with a goal from Morrissey. Morrissey picked the puck off the boards before ripping a shot to the top right corner that beat Sharks goalie Aaron Dell for his fourth of the season.

Dell made 31 saves to improve to 9-3-1 and earn his second victory against the Jets this season.

"Yea, he’s been exceptional," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "He’s been a huge part of our success this year. Every time, people wait for him to stumble and fall — he finds a way to win another game. I thought the third period tonight was his best. He really settled in and made a couple big saves for us."

Both teams seemed to settle into their game in the second period, with the Sharks pushing the pace more and more. After being outshot 13-7 by the Jets through 20 minutes, San Jose started to direct everything to the net. The Sharks finished the frame with 16 shots compared to the Jets’ seven, but Hellebuyck stood tall. He'd finish the game with 27 saves on 29 shots.

The loss puts a sour note on what has been a great stretch of hockey for the Jets of late. For much of the last month, the Jets have recognized, and perhaps most importantly, executed a physical style of play that has made them successful. The Jets had won two straight heading into Monday and had collected points in seven of their last eight (5-1-2).

But with the loss, the Jets once again fall to a record below .500 (30-31-6) are unable to move any closer to the playoff line, still three points shy of the St. Louis Blues, who have three games in hand, from the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"Fortunately, especially in this league, you’re playing games usually quite often," said Morrissey. "So, tonight, the guys might be mad or whatever it is but tomorrow come to the rink ready to work, do some learning, some scouting for Pittsburgh. Fortunately, you have another chance to prove yourself and be ready to go a couple of nights down the road."

The win extends the Sharks (39-19-7) lead in the Pacific to seven points over the Edmonton Oilers.

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

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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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