On Monday afternoon, the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames renewed acquaintances in Game 2 of their best-of-five, Qualifying Round postseason matchup. The matinee showdown featured a totally revamped Jets lineup, as injured forwards Mark Scheifele (lower-body), Patrik Laine (upper-body) and Mason Appleton (unknown) were considered unfit to participate. Although missing a combined 62 regular season goals from the forward trio (57 of which came off the sticks of Scheifele and Laine), Winnipeg was able to rely on its secondary scoring and power play in a narrow 3-2 victory.
Calgary, which has now been unsuccessful in winning Game 2 of a series 10-straight times, also maintained its five-year streak in failing to win consecutive postseason games. Hoping to put a stranglehold on the series already up 1-0, Matthew Tkachuk and the Flames came into the game under heavy scrutiny following the play from Game 1 that sent Mark Scheifele down to the ice in severe pain. Despite some retribution in the form of open-ice hits, shots to the head and the odd slash, Winnipeg was able to maintain control of its emotion surrounding the scrappy forward.
A back-and-forth opening frame saw the Jets and Flames each put up 15 shot attempts, as the two teams really let their respective offensive firepower open up, compared to the hesitant first period seen in Saturday’s Game 1. Calgary finished the period up 10-9 in shots on goal, despite giving up the only goal within the first 20 minutes.
Jansen Harkins, who drew into the lineup alongside Jack Roslovic and Adam Lowry, opened the scoring for the Jets for the second-straight game. Picking up a bank pass from winger Roslovic in the neutral zone, Lowry shoveled the puck to a streaking Harkins, who picked his spot and calmly fired a wrister past Cam Talbot for his first career playoff goal, in thus his first career playoff game.
Expected to fill a significantly larger role moving forward in the absence of Schiefele, Lowry continued his strong play in the middle stanza, scoring Winnipeg’s second goal of the game from the net-front. After screening Talbot on a Josh Morrissey point shot, the 27-year-old turned and batted the rebound out of the air on his backhand, picking up a point on each of the Jets first three postseason goals.
But after falling behind 2-0, the Flames put together yet another strong second period. After scoring three goals in the middle frame Saturday, Calgary put up two more on Monday. A brutal Nikolaj Ehlers defensive zone giveaway led directly to Elias Lindholm’s first of the playoffs midway through the period, before Sam Bennett banked a wraparound into the Jets’ net off the skate of defenceman Nathan Beaulieu with just 2:31 left. Calgary maintained its slight 21-20 shot lead through 40 minutes.
After going 0/7 on the man advantage in Game 1, Winnipeg finally found the back of the net on the power play Monday, scoring on it’s 11thopportunity of the series. After failing to find twine on each of its three previous chances – including a two-minute five-on-three in the second period – Nikolaj Ehlers gave the Jets a one-goal lead at 10:24 of the third. In scoring his first career postseason goal, Ehlers redirected a high Neal Pionk point shot down past a screened Talbot, restoring the Winnipeg lead 3-2.
Despite a few anxious moments in the dying moments with the Flames’ net empty and Andrew Copp in the penalty box, the Jets held on for a narrow 3-2 victory, knotting the series up at one game apiece. With no official word on the severity of Schiefele, Laine or Appleton’s injuries, the Jets move that much closer to seeing the return of those highly-skilled forwards.
The Flames, who went 2/4 on the man advantage in the series opener failed to capitalize on any of their six power play chances Monday. Winnipeg scored once on its six chances in the game, including the eventual game-winner off the stick of Ehlers.
Despite the deflection off the boot of netfront defender Beaulieu on the Bennett wraparound tally, Hellebuyck stood tall in net for the Jets, allowing just the Ehlers giveaway marker. He made 28 stops for the Jets, while Talbot turned aside 23 pucks for the Flames. Game 3 of the now-tied best-of-five series is set for 5:45 PM central time on Tuesday, where Winnipeg will shift to serve as the ‘home team’. Once again, the game can be viewed live on Sportsnet.