DALLAS — On the bright side, the Winnipeg Jets rallied from a pair of deficits, including one in the final minute of the game, to at least snag a valuable point on the road. But they let a second one slip away in overtime Friday night, falling 4-3 to the Dallas Stars.
Jason Robertson scored the winner at 3:10 of the three-on-three session. Winnipeg falls to 19-17-8, while Dallas improves to 25-18-2.
The Jets had a couple glorious chances in the extra frame to win it, including a Mark Scheifele breakaway and a Pierre-Luc Dubois rush to the net that just went wide. They don’t have much time to pout about it, however, as they are back in action Saturday night in Nashville to close out a quick, but very important road trip.
Winnipeg did a lot of good things in this one, especially in the first half of the game as they tried to build off an impressive 2-0 victory on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild. But, as general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said in his mid-season “state of the union” on Wednesday, this is a results-oriented business. And the Jets have to start producing if they want to get back in the playoff picture.
In that sense, this outcome will certainly sting.
The first period was a tentative, tight-checking affair, as both teams seemed more concerned about keeping their own end of the ice neat and tidy rather than generate anything at the other. The result was a bit of a snoozefest, but a perfectly fine “road period” for the Jets.
Jamie Benn had a glorious chance to open the scoring, as a loose puck ended up on his stick in the crease with Hellebuyck briefly out of position. But it took a bizarre hop as he shot, sailing over the empty net. Benn couldn’t believe his bad luck, and the Jets were happy to dodge the bullet.
Business picked up in the middle frame, however.
Winnipeg struck first just 50 seconds in, as Dubois parked his big body in front of the Dallas net and got his stick on a Nate Schmidt point shot. It’s the 19th goal of the year for Dubois, who missed Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Minnesota after testing positive for COVID-19 last weekend at the end of an All-Star break trip to New York.
The 23-year-old Dubois continues to be a bright spot for Winnipeg this season. He had just eight goals in 41 games with the Jets last year following the blockbuster trade from Columbus. The pending restricted free agent is in for a big payday this summer.
As the game hit the midway mark, the Jets were doing a stellar defensive job. But then it briefly came unravalled. First, Jacob Peterson went hard to Winnipeg’s net-front, evading an Andrew Copp check and getting his skate on a pass attempt from Alexander Radulov. This time, the home team got a favourable bounce as it eluded Hellebuyck at 10:46.
Dallas took its first lead just 56 seconds later, as a poor Neal Pionk pinch and a Scheifele back-check that was a tad too late ended with an odd-man rush and a Tyler Seguin goal.
But to Winnipeg’s credit, they didn’t let a brief lapse completely bite them. A nifty, high-speed zone entry which included a couple nice passes from Scheifele and rookie Cole Perfetti left Jansen Harkins all alone in the slot, and he ripped a wrist shot past Jake Oettinger for his fifth of the year.
It wasn’t just the offence that increased during the second period. The intensity did as well, with the Central Division rivals exchanging plenty of big hits.
Tempers boiled over late in the frame when Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon crushed Stars blue-liner John Klingberg with a heavy, open-ice hit. One of the silliest “unwritten rules” in hockey then played out, with Dillon being forced to drop the gloves and answer for a perfectly legal play. It was Benn who stood up for his teammate, and the two engaged in a spirited scrap.
Dillon has been a bit of an assassin on skates lately. He blew up Roope Hintz with a check earlier in the game, and sparked a melee against the Wild earlier this week after catching Marcus Foligno in the trolley-tracks.
Opponents best beware and have their heads on a swivel when he’s on the ice.
Things looked bleak for the Jets when Benn re-directed a puck past Hellebuyck at 12:47 of the third period, completing his Gordie Howe hat trick. But Scheifele got it back with just 32 seconds remaining in regulation and Hellebuyck on the bench for an extra attacker. Dallas had failed to clear the zone, and Scheifele made them pay with a wicked wrister from just inside the blue-line for his 12th of the year.
That set the stage for the dramatic overtime session.
Hellebuyck finished the game with 31 saves, while Oettinger also turned 31 pucks aside. Winnipeg went 0-for-1 on the power play, while Dallas was blanked in four opportunities.
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