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Jets Take it to Defending Cup Champ Washington Wednesday

By Carter Brooks

Photos by James Carey Lauder

The defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals arrived in Winnipeg early Wednesday morning, fresh off a 5-2 victory in Minnesota Tuesday night.

Jets Take it to Defending Cup Champ Washington Wednesday

Although the Capitals did not hold a morning skate at Bell MTS Place, the visitors came out of the gates flying. The prototypical ‘good start in the second game of a back-to-back’ proved true Wednesday, but the energy levels of the Jets’ opposition clearly wore off, as Winnipeg handed Alex Ovechkin and Co. a 3-1 loss. 

Washington took the game’s first seven shots, and added insult to injury as Winnipeg’s first shot was a 175-foot dump in that led to Washington’s opening goal. Winnipegger Madison Bowey made a tremendous breakout pass to speedy forward Jakub Vrana, who walked the puck into the Jets’ end, before ripping a beauty of a wrist shot past Connor Hellebuyck far-side from the top of the circle.

The point was Bowey’s first primary assist of the season, as the Stanley Cup champion made his return to Winnipeg for the first time since raising Lord Stanley’s mug in early June 2018.

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The visitors finished the period up 10-2 on the shot tracker, with most of Winnipeg’s quality chances ending without a shot on net. The Jets’ best opportunity came off the stick of defender Jacob Trouba, who fanned on a quick one-timer at the top of the Caps’ crease with just a handful of seconds remaining in the frame.

Winnipeg dominated the second period, tying the game up at ones five minutes in on the power play, before evening up the shot charts, thanks in a large part to two early power play opportunities.

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With Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin in the penalty box for interference, the Jets’ potent power play took just seven seconds to score the equalizer. Wheeler put the puck down low to Kyle Connor, who found Mark Scheifele all alone in the slot, who one-timed his 10th of the season past Pheonix Copley.

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If it weren’t for some smart desperation saves by Copley, the Jets could have pulled ahead by a handful of goals in the middle stanza. Washington put up another 10 shots in the second, while Winnipeg registered 14, bringing the Jets to within four shots of the Capitals through 40 minutes of play.

The third period provided more entertainment as the Jets and Caps went back and forth exchanging chance after chance. An incredible sequence of events led to a goalmouth scramble in Winnipeg’s end as Dustin Byfuglien and Connor Hellebuyck combined to make a sensational goal line save.

With 7:09 to go in the third, defenceman Ben Chiarot jumped up in the rush and fired a long wrist shot past Copley, giving the Jets their first lead of the game, while also bringing the team within one shot of the visitors.

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The Chiarot marker seemingly held up, and Kyle Connor added an empty net strike from the far blueline, handing the Jets their 15th victory in their past 17 contests at Bell MTS Place. Washington outshot Winnipeg 28-24, and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 27 pucks to help push the Jets to within one point of Minnesota for second in the Central Division.

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Winnipeg concludes its four-game homestand on Friday with a 7:00 P.M. matchup with the Buffalo Sabres. The game can be viewed live on TSN3.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com.

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