Another day, another overtime breakaway winner from defenceman Josh Morrissey.
Scoring on a breakaway just 32 seconds into the extra frame, Morrissey’s fourth of the year gave Winnipeg a 5-4 overtime victory on Friday, after once again collapsing late on multiple goals against in the final minutes in a divisional tilt with the Dallas Stars.
“He was flat out flying. He’s just been great for us all year,” head coach Rick Bowness said post-game. “And when you get him into a foot race, then look out. He’s just been outstanding for us all year. That was pretty exciting. You could just see him pulling away, and you knew he was going to get a shot away.”
The game also marked Bowness’ return to Dallas as a member of the Jets after spending the past five years leading the charge from atop the bench of the Stars.
The 67-year-old was given the proper recognition he deserved, by way of a nice message on the jumbotron, to which his former players gave a round of stick taps.
“I loved it. A lot of good memories,” he said. “The only disappointing thing in my years here was when we went to the Stanley Cup Finals and we couldn’t have our fans there. That’s disappointing. You get to the finals, and I know this atmosphere from the year before in the playoffs, they’ve got great fans and a great atmosphere. The only disappointment I have from leaving here is that, going to the Finals and being in the bubble in Edmonton, and not having the fans here enjoy that game.”
Having lost to Dallas 4-1 in Texas in the team’s first road game of the season, the Jets did so without Bowness, who was out with COVID at the time. The Stars then travelled to Winnipeg two weeks back, where the Jets soundly beat them 5-1 at Canada Life Centre. Friday marked the final of three scheduled meetings between the two Central Division rivals.
And it couldn’t have been a more game: Three lengthy video reviews, a broken pane of glass, a multi-goal comeback and an overtime winner certainly gave fans at American Airlines Center more than they paid for.
Defenceman Dylan DeMelo made his return following a four-game injury absence, while Ville Heinola served as a healthy scratch. Connor Hellebuyck got the nod in net, while Jake Oettinger suited up for Dallas on the night.
Friday’s game also was also Winnipeg’s first since a blowout loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center. This time, the game started rather differently for the Jets.
Just 1:32 in, Blake Wheeler fed Cole Perfetti for a go-ahead strike, faking Oettinger before tucking it past him on a partial break, getting the game’s opening goal in his first shift. But it didn’t take Dallas long to respond, with fellow rookie Wyatt Johnston tapping home a Jamie Benn rebound just 26 seconds after the Perfetti strike.
But before the period was even 10 minutes old, the two teams each found the back of net again.
Winnipeg got its second lead of the game on Jansen Harkins’ first of the year. A strong forecheck from Mikey Eyssimont allowed Adam Lowry to collect a loose puck netfront. He slipped it cross-ice to Harkins, who hammered it into the wide open net with just 5:48 having ticked off the clock.
The Stars tied the game for the second time with another play by Jamie Benn. With Brenden Dillon in the box for holding, Benn gathered his own rebound in tight and potted his 10th of the year on a primary setup play from Jason Robertson, who extended his franchise record point scoring streak to 14 games, passing that of Dave Gagner, the father of Jets forward Sam.
Dallas led the Jets with a 14-10 shot advantage through 20 minutes.
After an exceptionally eventful opening period, the teams settled in for what was much more calm of a middle frame.
The closest Dallas team came to scoring in the second actually was called a goal on the ice. A dump in ended up hitting the netting above the end-glass, to which every player in on the ice noticed, but all four referees seemed to miss the call. The Stars kept playing and picked up the loose puck, before putting it past a dormant Connor Hellebuyck. It was ruled a good goal on the ice, but coach Bones chose to challenge the play for a missed stoppage. His choice paid off, as video evidence clearly showed the puck hitting the netting, taking the goal off the board and restoring the tie game.
No sooner had the score been shifted back to 2-2 before Winnipeg clawed back for its third lead of the game. This time it was a nifty redirection by Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, who got a Dylan DeMelo point shot to Adam Lowry, who calmly put the loose puck past Oettinger.
Kyle Connor extended Winnipeg’s lead with his seventh of the season (and fourth in his last five games), as he earned a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois before putting it into the net with just 89:39 to play.
But, much like the game in Winnipeg against Carolina, the opposition didn’t bow out even when behind by a few goals late.
Jason Robertson found his second of the game on a six-on-five advantage with Oettinger on the bench for the extra attacker. His 17th of the season was a result of a PLD and Jamie Benn screen, which came with 2:12 remaining.
Then, with Oettinger on the bench again, Robertson struck for a third time. The goal appeared rather controversial, however, as Connor Hellebuyck was laying face down on the ice without a helmet at the time of the strike. The NHL’s situation room intervened, prompting referee Garrett Rank to have a second look. But upon review, it was determined that it was Josh Morrissey who ended up pushing Jamie Benn into Hellebuyck, knocking his helmet off before the puck entered the net.
“I don’t see a reality where the goalie can have no helmet on and a goal be allowed three seconds after,” Morrissey said. “He’s lying on the ice without a helmet on in front of the net. If he takes a shot off the face that’s an extremely dangerous situation. So it’s pretty cut and dry to me.”
The second empty net goal of the game came with just 19 seconds remaining, and it was a hat trick marker for Robertson that sent the game to overtime.
Thankfully to those who only extended their PVR recordings of the game 30 minutes, Winnipeg needed just 32 seconds of the extra frame to find the winner. For the second-straight overtime game, defenceman Josh Morrissey ended it on a breakaway. In receiving a lead pass from Wheeler, Morrissey blew by Robertson and finished off the Stars for his second game-winner in three games.
“J-Mo is an elite skater so you get him into open space, he’s a handful,” Wheeler said of the overtime hero. “He’s scored a couple of big goals for us the last few games and that was a big moment.”
Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves on 41 shots and improved his record to 9-5-1 on the season, while Jake Oettinger fell to 8-2-3 as he managed to stop just 23 of the 28 pucks turned his way.
Winnipeg next hits up Chicago on Sunday evening before returning home for four-straight games next week. Sunday’s game can be viewed live on TSN at 6:00 PM central time.