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This article was published 12/10/2019 (957 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CHICAGO — The usual suspects that do damage for the Winnipeg Jets really didn’t Saturday night — but they earned their keep with some nifty work in overtime.
Kept off the scoresheet through 60 minutes, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler collaborated on a terrific game-winning tally in the three-on-three extra session to lift the Jets to a 3-2 defeat of the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
Scheifele accepted a cross-ice pass from Wheeler and unloaded a howitzer that eluded goalie Robin Lehner just 47 seconds into overtime. Blue-liner Josh Morrissey started the play, pinching Hawks star and Winnipeg product Jonathan Toews against the wall in the defensive zone, grabbing the puck and moving it to Wheeler.
Winnipeg (4-2-0) has registered three straight victories, while Chicago (0-2-1) is still without a win.
"Good play by (Morrissey) in the corner, forcing Toews’ hand, went up the ice. We knew we had kind of an odd-man break... good pass by Wheels and put her home," Scheifele said, describing his second goal of the season.
Patrik Laine, who patrols the left side on the top line, didn’t get a point for the first time in six contests. The trio combined for just five shots in regulation on Lehner, whose sprawling pad-stack on Scheifele late in the middle period preserved a 2-1 lead.
The Jets trailed until around 12 minutes into the third period, when Copp evened the contest. Kyle Connor worked the puck to the front of the net, drew the attention of two Blackhawks and dished to Copp, who promptly stuffed it behind Lehner with 8:16 left in regulation time.
It was just reward for a solid performance from the second forward unit. Nikolaj Ehlers had opened the scoring for the visitors with a power-play goal at 7:05 of the second period, set up by Neal Pionk.
"We got the power-play goal — that was good to be a part of," Copp said. "And then we needed a goal, and (Wheeler, Scheifele and Laine) have provided pretty much all the big goals this year. So it was good to give them an opportunity to win the game. Total team effort."
Wheeler said the offensive production has to be spread around for the team to excel in the tough Central Division.
"It’s a team effort. There’s going to be times where our line catches fire, times where each line is going to have a moment to step up and make plays. It was awesome to see some guys get rewarded," the Jets captain said.
The Jets have been working some new wrinkles into their power play, but an element that hasn’t changed (does it ever?) is vigorous puck pursuit. Connor let that part of the job description slip on the Blackhawks’ game-opening goal, coming a not-so-close second in a puck race to Ryan Carpenter along the wall in the Chicago zone and then coasting to catch him. Carpenter drove down on a two-on-one and fed Brandon Saad, who tucked in his first goal of the season behind Connor Hellebuyck just four minutes into the opening frame.
Winnipeg has given up the first goal in each of its six games.
Later in the period, Brent Seabrook slipped in from the point and buried a rebound off a shot in tight from rookie winger Dominik Kubalik.
By all accounts, Friday’s premature winter blast had little effect on the Jets’ journey to Chi-Town. Yet, forwards and blue-liners alike looked like they were slogging in sticky, wet snow through 20 minutes.
"I swear, it was a 7 o’clock start," Wheeler joked. The opening faceoff was, indeed, at 6 p.m. CT. "The first wasn’t good for us. You’ve got to give them credit, though. Two-thirds of that game was really good. In the second, we started tipping it in our favour a bit. Luckily, we didn’t run out of time."
Only Hellebuyck, who made his third consecutive start, earned a pardon. He had no chance on the Saad tally and then did the splits to make a couple of saves in heavy traffic before Seabrook cashed in.
He finished with 27 stops to post his third consecutive win.
"That’s what I said to (Hellebuyck) at the end: ‘Thanks for just giving us a chance.’ Both goals were tough. You can’t really fault him on them. He stuck in there and fought hard for us," Wheeler acknowledged.
Maybe head coach Paul Maurice did some barking or the Jets applied some deep self-analysis after the first period — whatever it was had the effect of a B12 shot.
"That was our first first period like that... when everybody’s off. So you know that your prep wasn’t right. There’s a bunch of reasons that could be, so we’ll try to figure that out before we come on the road again," Maurice said. "But how do you get out of it? The first three strides have to be different. A little more physical. And then look at it as an opportunity, instead of yellin’ and screamin’. You’re going to have that. We’ve gotta figure out how to get out of it. They did a great job of it."
Winnipeg plays its first of five consecutive games at Bell MTS Place tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit.
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).