It was a nervous time in the dying minutes for the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night, but a third-period goal by Nathan Beaulieu eventually held up.
Playing in front of another full house at Bell MTS Place, Beaulieu’s third-period goal was the difference as the Jets beat the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 3-2.
It was a thriller down the stretch, however, as Chicago pulled starting goaltender Corey Crawford with two minutes to play and laid on the pressure. However, the Jets defence held up this time and Winnipeg improved to 30-25-5 on the season.
Playing in its 60th game of the campaign, the Jets got a combination of solid goaltending and secondary scoring to beat Chicago at Bell MTS Place for the second time in a week. Winnipeg now has 65 points and is just a point out of the final Wild Card spot in the West.
The Jets are now 15-14-3 at home this season and 3-2-0 on this current six-game home stand. Sunday night’s win put a halt to a two-game losing streak.
This was a game the Jets certainly should have won. They outshot the Hawks 38-33, won 51 per cent of the face-offs and outhit Chicago 21-15. Still, the outcome was in doubt right until the final buzzer. Oh, and in an odd occurrence, there wasn’t a penalty called against either team.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring at 15:44 of the first period when Patrick Kane found Ryan Carpenter in front of Connor Hellebuyck and Carpenter redirected the puck into the corner of the net. That’s how the first period ended, despite the fact that Winnipeg outshot Chicago 14-10.
In the second period, the Jets scored three goals but only two of them counted.
Mason Appleton opened the scoring for Winnipeg at 6:38 when he tipped a shot from Nathan Beaulieu past Crawford. It was Appleton’s fourth of the year from Beaulieu and Jansen Harkins.
Winnipeg appeared to make 2-1 when Kyle Connor had a shot off the end boards deflect off his arm and into the corner past Crawford. However, the officials reviewed it and said Connor directed the puck toward the net and so they waved off the goal. The way things have gone for Winnipeg on these goal replays, you can bet that if it had been a Chicago goal, it would have counted.
Regardless, the Jets did make it 2-1 when Jack Roslovic scored his 12th of the year by tipping in a shot from the point by Dmitry Kulikov. Mason Appleton and Kulikov got the assists. For Appleton, a goal and an assists gave him his second career multi-point game. He had two assists against Anaheim on Feb. 2.
However, Chicago tied it when captain Jonathan Toews hit Kane with a perfect pass in front and Kane simply buried it behind Hellebuyck at 19:07. The Jets outshot Chicago 15-14 in the second period and had outshot them 29-24 after 40 minutes, but the score was tied.
In the third period, a high shot from the point by Beaulieu deflected off a Chicago stick and shocked Crawford as it his the back of the net. It was Beaulieu’s first goal of the season. Kulikov and Patrik Laine drew the assists. It was probably the best game Beaulieu has played as a member of the Jets.
“Good for him because he’s done lots of really good things for us and those guys don’t get much of a payoff sometimes,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice when asked about Beaulieu. “They play hard minutes, normally penalty kill time so good for him, he earned it.”
With goals from Appleton, Roslovic and Beaulieu, the Jets got some secondary scoring for a change and that was the difference in the outcome. That and the fact Hellebuyck made 31 saves and was rock solid down the stretch.
Now back in the playoff conversation, the Jets will end their six-game homestand on Tuesday when the Los Angeles Kings come to town. Game time is 7 p.m.