SAN JOSE – The Winnipeg Jets pulled off a grand heist Friday night in San Jose, squeaking out a 3-2 win in a game where they were massively outplayed.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored the winner with just 1:24 left in the third period, one-timing a brilliant, no-look pass from linemate Jack Roslovic for his team-leading seventh of the season. The goal, seemingly out of nowhere with the Jets spending much of the game in their own end, improved Winnipeg’s record to 7-7-0. San Jose drops to 4-9-1 after losing their fourth straight.
The real story here was Connor Hellebuyck, who had one of the best games of his life. He made a career-high 51 saves on the night, including one with just a few seconds left on the clock to preserve the victory.
Hellebuyck faced 42 shots in the final 40 minutes alone as his team was repeatedly under siege.
Both teams were said to be desperate coming in, but you’d be hard-pressed to know it by the snooze-fest that was the opening 10 minutes. Unless you’re a fan of multiple icings and missed passes, there wasn’t a lot to get excited about.
But then Gabriel Bourque woke the Jets up, at least temporarily, firing a shot just under the crossbar at 13:34 of the period to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Winnipeg was in the middle of a not-yet-completed line change, and Bourque took advantage of being on the ice with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, who stole the puck from Brent Burns and fed Bourque for the goal.
It’s the first of the season for the veteran forward.
The Sharks came out with a bit more bite in the middle frame, and it quickly paid off. Barclay Goodrow scored 3:18 into the period as San Jose quickly broke the puck out of their own end and cashed in. Marc-Edouard Vlasic hit Jonny Brodzinski with a sweet stretch pass, and he chipped it up to Goodrow who one-timed it past Hellebuyck.
Then came the big turning point of the game.
With the Jets on their heels following the tying goal, old friend Evander Kane looked to have given the home team a 2-1 lead as he beat Hellebuyck on a rebound. But the goal was overturned on goaltender interference challenge, with replays showing Kevin Labanc making contact with Hellebuyck’s pad right before Kane scored.
On the very next shift, Jets captain Blake Wheeler took a backhand pass from Mark Scheifele and beat Martin Jones to put the Jets out front. It’s the fifth goal of the year for Wheeler, and the second in as many games following a six-game pointless streak.
San Jose continued to come in waves, and Winnipeg can thank Hellebuyck for escaping the period with the lead intact. The Sharks outshot the Jets 28-9 in the period alone,
The third period started exactly how the second end — with complete domination by San Jose. And with a delayed penalty coming to the Jets, Tomas Hertl tied it just 49 seconds into the frame.
It was all San Jose from that point on, save for the one shift late in the game where the Jets took advantage of some broken coverage and fired the game-winner to sneak out of town with two points.
The road trip concludes Saturday night in Las Vegas as the Jets take on the Golden Knights.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
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