It was almost déjà vu, and then it wasn’t.
Just 24 hours after falling apart in the third period and ultimately losing to the Calgary Flames in a shootout, the Winnipeg Jets found themselves back ahead of the same opponent by two goals. This time, however, the boys in blue managed to hang on for a narrow 3-2 victory from Bell MTS Place on Tuesday.
Laurent Brossoit made 29 saves, while the Jets saw eight different players record a point on the night. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice for Calgary but Laurent Brossoit stopped all 29 of the shots he faced by any Flame not wearing No. 19.
The Scotia North Division contest marked the second of four-straight games between the Jets and Flames and featured a battle of backup netminders Laurent Brossoit and David Rittich. It was also a game that saw most of its action occur in the first period. More specifically, a 65-second stretch of time in which the game’s opening three goals were scored.
Making matters more interesting on Tuesday was that the offence came from some of the unlikeliest of sources. Former Los Angeles Kings Trevor Lewis and Derek Forbort each scored their first markers as members of the Jets, before Nikolaj Ehlers found his sixth goal of the season later in the frame.
With defenceman Neal Pionk in the penalty box for hooking, Mason Appleton used his speed and puck-tracking ability to setup Lewis for a quick strike at 7:40 of the opening period. The goal was the seventh shorthanded tally of his career. Just 12 seconds after the Pionk minor expired, Derek Forbort wired a long-range wrist shot past Flames’ netminder David Rittich far side. Pionk and Andrew Copp collected the assists on the Jets’ first goal of the season by a defenceman.
“Right from the get-go I thought the energy was good,” Lewis said post-game. “We stuck to our game, we stuck to the plan we wanted to have for 60 minutes. We didn’t have too many lulls. When they scored, we came back and scored again. Any time they got momentum, I thought we did a good job of getting it back. The P.K. was big tonight and it was definitely a big win.”
That two-goal lead, however, was very short-lived. Matthew Tkachuk put the visitors on the board just 30 seconds later with a slick tap-in at the 7:45 mark of the opening period. But less than six minutes later, Ehlers potted a crafty redirection goal of his own. Off a lengthy period of offensive zone control, Mark Scheifele found Dylan DeMelo, whose point shot was deflected twice, before finding its way into the Flames’ net.
Despite two man advantages for the Flames in the early going, Winnipeg maintained its lead on both the scoreboard and in the shot department through 20 minutes of play, finishing the first period up 3-1 and ahead by three shots, 12-9.
The game’s scoreless second period failed to compare to the first in terms of action. The Jets did add to their comfortable shot lead, piling on another 11 shots, compared to the visitors’ five shots, for a 23-14 lead through 40 minutes. With no goals scored, the teams headed to the final frame with Winnipeg maintaining its 3-1 lead.
After a back-and-forth first half of the third period, Calgary woke up at the midway point. Reminiscent of Monday’s come-from-behind victory, the Flames brought the game to within one goal, as Matthew Tkachuk scored his second of the game on a rebound following his unsuccessful breakaway attempt with 9:07 to play.
Winnipeg then successfully killed its fourth penalty of the game late in the third period, before sealing the deal down six-on-five as David Rittich watched the remaining 1:43 from the bench. Although going 4/4 on the penalty kill Tuesday, the Jets did struggle to set up on their lone power play opportunity in the game.
“I thought tonight we were fine, and then you give up a shorthanded goal,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “It was just a little breakdown, and then they scored the next shift. Obviously that can’t happen. We’ve got to be sharper. The special teams battle, you can’t lose it in this league. Most nights you’ll lose the game.”
The Jets’ two best stops of the game came late, with Forbort swatting a loose puck out of the air, before Brossoit dove to block a Gaudreau point-blank opportunity from the slot. According to Forbort, it was a split-second, reactionary decision.
“I don’t know exactly where it was going to land, I just knew it wasn’t going to be in a good spot no matter what,” he said. “It happens pretty quick and you kind of swat it to get it out of there. I felt like I was playing volleyball back in California.”
Brossoit saw his record improve to 2-1-0 on the season while putting up a .935 save percentage, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. He made 16 of his 29 stops in the third period, as Winnipeg was heavily outshot 17-5 in the final frame.
“He had some saves that he had to work hard at and some deflections in tight and some bouncing pucks,” head coach Paul Maurice said of Brossoit’s play Tuesday. “So, he looked like he was right on, right from the get-go, even though they weren’t sitting on a lot of shots that they got credit for. He made some really good saves. The thing I’m most excited about was how he was able to get himself so sharp after a tough loss.”
Now having completed two of four-straight games against the Flames, Winnipeg will close out its home portion of the mini-series as well as finish off its season-long seven-game homestand on Thursday. The two teams will once again duke it out at Bell MTS Place at 7:00 PM. The game can be viewed live on TSN. Gifted the opportunity of an open Super Bowl weekend, Winnipeg will travel to Calgary early next week to wrap up the four-game set in a Tuesday evening matchup. That game will go at 9:00 PM central time.