With stars Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, and Josh Morrissey amongst many others sitting out the first preseason game, the Jets’ lineup featured a boatload of the 2017-18 Manitoba Moose squad, with some veteran leadership thrown in for good measure.
Bryan Little began the game between Nik Ehlers and Patrik Laine on the team’s first forward line. Jack Roslovic centred Kristian Vesalainen and Mathieu Perreault on line two. Brendan Lemieux found himself with Nic Petan and Marko Dano, while newcomers Nic Kerdiles and Seth Griffith joined Mason Appleton on Winnipeg’s fourth forward line.
Jets’ touted backup netminder Laurent Brossoit was Winnipeg’s best player in the opening frame, stopping every shot he faced. The Jets had three power plays in the first period, with the best opportunity coming off of a deflected Dustin Byfuglien slap shot from the point.
Winnipeg found the twine midway through the opening period as a familiar tandem teamed up to produce the first goal of the Jets’ preseason. Marko Dano found himself in the right place at the right time on an odd man rush up the ice, as a Brendan Lemieux rebound landed on the foot of the crease, right on Dano’s stick, who popped the loose puck past netminder Andrew Hammond, giving the 5-foot-11, 215-pound forward his first of the preseason with 6:48 left to play.
Despite an onslaught of Wild scoring opportunities, Winnipeg held onto the 1-0 lead for the remainder of the opening frame, and carried it all the way through to the third period. Brossoit remained sharp, stopping all 26 Minnesota shots through 40 minutes.
With Morrissey, Trouba, Tyler Myers and Dmitry Kulikov out for Winnipeg on the back end, Tucker Poolman, Sami Niku, Joe Morrow, Ben Chiarot and Logan Stanley joined Dustin Byfuglien as defenders Monday night, collectively holding the Wild to just one goal, even though giving up three breakaways.
With just one defensive roster spot up from grabs, and Morrow, Chiarot and Poolman holding an advantage having spent time with the Jets in 2017-18, Niku and Stanley would need exceptionally impressive preseasons to find themselves sticking with Winnipeg come October. As it stands, two of Morrow, Chiarot and Poolman will most likely only see action if a fellow defender goes down with an injury in the early going.
The third period began well for Minnesota, as former Jet Matt Hendricks jumped on a loose puck and banged home one of his trademark garbage goals, knotting the game up at ones with 17 minutes left to play.
With 8:15 left to play in the third, forward Patrik Laine collected a great breakout pass from Nikolaj Ehlers, before dishing off to defenceman Joe Morrow inside the Wild zone. Morrow then roofed an absolute snipe, bar-down – his first goal since scoring against the same Minnesota Wild in early April of the 2018 postseason.
Morrow’s shot was called a goal on ice, even though further evidence provided no clear indication that the puck ever crossed the goal line. Morrow’s phantom ‘goal’ held on to be the eventual game-winner, as the Wild were unable to solve Brossoit in the final few minutes, even with Hammond pulled for the extra attacker.
Taking full control of the crease, Brossoit stopped 39 of Minnesota’s 40 shots on the evening, including three breakaway stops, giving up just the one rebound marker to former teammate Hendricks early in the third period.
As is typically the case, Winnipeg is expected to dress a very different looking lineup for their second preseason game on Thursday evening in Edmonton. Puck drop is set for 8:00 P.M. central time, and the game can be viewed live on TSN3. The Jets return home to host the Calgary Flames on Friday from Bell MTS Place.