Falling behind two separate times, the Jets battled back, and took two of the three points awarded, beating the Ducks 4-3 in overtime.
Heading into Sunday’s contest against Winnipeg, since proving victorious over Pittsburgh 4-2 on December 17th, the Anaheim has gone 0-7-3 in its last 10 games, putting up just 16 goals, while being shut out twice.
Following their typical script, it was another hesitant start for the Jets on Sunday afternoon. Although outshooting their southern California opponents 11-7 in the opening frame, Winnipeg trailed the visitors by a goal through 20 minutes of play.
It didn’t take long for Anaheim to strike, as Brian Gibbons’ knuckle-puck floated redirected off defenceman Ben Chiarot’s skate and past Connor Hellebuyck into the Jets’ net just 2:19 into the game. With 3:46 to go in the opening period, the Ducks added to their lead, as Rickard Rakell scored on a perfectly placed shot through an excellent Hellebuyck screen.
Winnipeg did manage to score a goal in the first period, however. With Nick Ritchie in the box for holding, captain Blake Wheeler took a feed along the side board from defenceman Josh Morrissey and walked the puck towards John Gibson. He then ripped the puck past the Anaheim goaltender short-side, for his ninth goal of the season.
The Ducks had two goals on their first five shots, while Winnipeg scored on their final shot of the frame, on the power play nonetheless.
Patrik Laine and the Jets pulled even with Anaheim just 2:24 into the second period, as Winnipeg’s sharp-shooter picked up his 25thgoal of the season on one-timer off the rush on a two-on-one with centreman Bryan Little. The 20-year-old snapped a hefty goalless drought, as he buried Little’s perfect cross-ice feed near the start of the period.
But with 4:12 to go, the Ducks re-took their lead, as veteran forward Andrew Cogliano completed a hard, grinding shift with a wraparound goal, tucking the Ducks’ 11thshot of the period past Hellebuyck. Anaheim outshot Winnipeg 13-11 in the second frame, bringing the visitors to within two shots of the Jets through 40 minutes of play.
The third period provided little in the goal-scoring department, that is, until the 5:55 mark. After a solid grinding effort by Winnipeg’s third line, the Jets managed to knot the game back up on a Ben Chiarot point shot. The puck took a bounce off Josh Manson’s leg in front of Anaheim’s goal, fooling Gibson the wrong direction, before entering the net – much to the pleasure of the hometown fans.
The Ducks outshot the Jets 8-5 in a low-offence third period, bringing the shot totals to 28-27 for Anaheim through 60 minutes. Winnipeg’s talent and experience shone through in the extra frame, as the Jets’ big boys came out to play, controlling the puck for the majority of the five additional minutes.
It took until Winnipeg’s seventh shot of the period to find a winner, as Bryan Little potted his 10thof the season off a Jacob Trouba rebound with just 10 seconds left in overtime, handing Anaheim its 11th-straight loss. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 33 of 34 shots in the victory, while John Gibson turned aside 27 of 31 pucks.
Winnipeg now must re-group and prepare to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, before taking off on the road to face Central Division rivals Nashville and Dallas before the 2019 All-Star Weekend. The Jets are currently tied with the Knights at 60 points for third in the Western Conference. Puck drop between Winnipeg and Vegas is set for 7:00 P.M. Tuesday, and the game can be viewed live on TSN3.