Although jumping ahead to an early lead, and building upon it throughout the opening two periods, Winnipeg’s veterans stayed the course, ultimately forcing overtime, and picking up the extra point in the additional frame.
The first period of Friday’s contest provided a few quality opportunities for the Jets, as Calgary found itself shorthanded nearly more often than not. Although gifted with three power plays – including a two-man advantage – Winnipeg could not find a way to beat netminder Tyler Parsons.
Patrik Laine had the best chance of the opening frame for the Jets, rattling a one-timer off the far post from his wheelhouse on the two-man advantage. After Calgary jumped ahead on a sweet backhand roof job by Brett Pollock midway through the period, Winnipeg’s next best opportunity came in the dying moments. A cross-ice pass to Kyle Connor rolled off the tip of the 21-year-old’s blade, missing the wide open net with less than a second to play.
The Flames narrowly outshot the Jets 9-8 through 20 minutes of play, setting the tone early in a game in which the visitors left most of their stars behind in Alberta. Winnipeg, on the other hand, dressed its top line of Connor, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele for the first time this preseason. The Jets also had Vezina finalist Connor Hellebuyck between the pipes Friday.
Following a Peter Stoykewych slashing minor, Blake Wheeler found himself sitting beside his fellow teammate in the sin bin just 12 seconds after the first penalty. Wheeler’s attempted breakaway involved a minor hook, which resulted in a five-on-three for the visitors.
It took Calgary just 17 seconds to capitalize on the two-man advantage, as red-hot Dillon Dube pumped his fourth goal of the preseason past Hellebuyck, boosting the Flames’ lead to two. Gilbert Brule came within an inch of giving Calgary a 3-0 lead just moments later, but his shot from the slot went square off the post.
Wheeler picked up the Jets’ first goal on a snap shot from the slot off of a Kyle Connor pass. But the Flames responded quickly with Alan Quine’s first of the preseason.
Winnipeg Head Coach Paul Maurice ripped into his team during a T.V. timeout following the Jets’ poor start the second frame, and it instantly paid off. Moments after play resumed, Dustin Byfuglien picked up a J.C. Lipon drop pass and wired the Jets’ second goal of the game top corner, short side, bringing Winnipeg to within one goal.
Winnipeg only registered three shots on goal in the second period, two of which beat Parsons into the yawning cage. The 21-year-old netminder was relieved by Jeff Glass to begin the third period.
It took Winnipeg nearly a full 20 minutes to knot the game up, but the hometown team did so in stunning fashion. With Dube in the box for holding, Maurice pulled Hellebuyck for the extra attacker, and his move paid off, giving the Jets a short lived five-on-three advantage. Seth Griffith found a wide open Bryan Little alone in front of Glass, who made no mistake burying the disc into the back of the net with 1:01 to go, much to the pleasure of those gathered at Bell MTS Place.
The tie lasted another minute, going the distance into the fourth frame. But the overtime period was just 26 seconds in duration. Blake Wheeler stole a puck deep in the Flames’ zone before finding Mark Scheifele at the point. Scheifele dished it back to Wheeler, who outwaited Calgary’s defence, before sliding it cross-crease to Byfuglien for an easy tap-in winner.
Coming from behind for the 4-3 victory, Winnipeg improved its preseason record to 2-1-0. The Jets have a day off on Saturday, before hosting Edmonton in a 7:00 P.M. showdown from Bell MTS Place Sunday evening. Sunday’s rematch with the Oilers will be shown live on TSN3.