On a night highlighted by musical performances from the Hunter Brothers, Jess Moskaluke and The Sheepdogs as well as live special guest appearances from Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, the Jets waiting until the very end to seal the deal in front of 33,518 spectators at the home of the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Josh Morrissey tied the game late in the third period, before Bryan Little collected his first goal of the season in dramatic fashion, capping off an overtime two-on-one in the extra frame, lifting the slumping Jets over the Flames in an intra-conference outdoor battle.
The Flames found the net first, as Elias Lindholm collected his seventh goal of the season – a power play marker – with five minutes to play second period, while Andrew Copp looked on from the home team’s penalty box.
The game’s opening goal was overshadowed by an unsuccessful challenge by Jets head coach Paul Maurice, who was adamant that Matthew Tkachuk had played the puck with an illegal high stick prior to Lindholm’s marker. Inconclusive evidence resulted in a lost challenge and a delay of game penalty to the Jets, which Winnipeg was successful in killing.
With four minutes to play in regulation, defenceman Josh Morrissey knotted the game up at ones with a booming slap shot that beat a screened David Rittich, finally bringing the Jets fans gathered at Mosaic Stadium to their collective feet. The third period came to a conclusion with the teams deadlocked 1-1.
Calgary’s Sean Monahan was penalized early in the extra frame as he took down Mark Scheifele with a trip behind the Calgary net. Despite many looks, Winnipeg’s power play failed to come up with a goal, however, the momentum clearly shifted to the Jets’ side, leading to the game-winning two-on-rush up ice.
Kyle Connor skated hard up the ice with the puck on a string, outwaiting a sprawling Flames’ defender, before sliding the puck cross crease and past Rittich to linemate Bryan Little. Little – who had missed the 2016 Heritage Classic in Winnipeg due to injury – made no mistake putting it into the open net, before celebrating with teammates and shaking hands with the opposition.
After giving up the game’s opening goal, Connor Hellebuyck stopped everything that came his way, making 29 stops on 30 Calgary shots, while David Rittich turned aside 43 of 45 shots from the Jets. Winnipeg had the only four shots of the overtime period.
Winnipeg will now head out on the road for a three-game trip through California and Nevada, as the Jets take on Anaheim, San Jose and Vegas on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, respectively. Puck drop on Tuesday is set for 9:00 PM central from the Honda Center in Anaheim. The game is available to view on TSN3.