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Jets Blow 3-0 Lead to Flyers, Persevere and Win 5-3

Karson Kuhlman scored the game-winner (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Flyers)

Jets Blow 3-0 Lead to Flyers, Persevere and Win 5-3

The Winnipeg Jets looked like a team ready to blow the Philadelphia Flyers right out of the Wells Fargo Centre on Sunday night.

But despite opening an early 3-0 lead, it took everything the Jets had to dispose of the Flyers 5-3.

Karson Kuhlman scored the go-ahead goal at the 8:44 mark of the third period and Kevin Stenlund added some insurance at 19:33 as the Jets recovered from a blowing a 3-0 advantage to battle back and beat the Flyers in what turned out to be a nail-biter.

With the win, the Jets improved to 31-16-1 on the season and moved back into a first-place tie with the Dallas Stars in the Central Division. Both teams have 63 points, but the Jets have more wins.

It was the Jets second straight win and it came in the second game of a back-to-back weekend series that started against the Senators in Ottawa on Saturday night. The Jets have now won 10 of their last 13 games and picked up their 31st win of the season in their 48th game. Last year, under former head coaches Paul Maurice and Dave Lowry, the Jets didn’t win their 31st game until their 66th game (March 25, 2022) when they beat Columbus 4-3 (31-25-10) in overtime.

Sunday night, the Jets opened the scoring at 4:53 of the first period when Axel Jonsson-Fjallby tipped a Brenden Dillon shot past the Flyers’ Felix Sandstrom. Kyle Connor made it 2-0 at 6:14 and then Mark Scheifele made it 3-0 at 8:31.

It appeared as if the Jets were going to turn this one into a joke, but Winnipeg retreated into a defensive shell, quit attacking and started to allow Philly to take over the game.

The Russian religious zealot and committed homophobe, Ivan Provorov, scored at the 18:39 mark of the first period to help Philly escape the first 20 minutes with some hope. Then Kevin Hayes, a former Jet, scored at 18:27 of the second on the power play to make it 3-2 and then Hayes scored another power-play goal at the 2:35 mark of the third period to tie it up at three apiece.

But the Jets got their mojo back, Kuhlman scored six minutes later and then Stenlund put it away late in the third with an empty-netter.

“The ups and downs,” said Dillon, who shrugged about the way the Jets won this one. “Ultimately, it’s about finding a way. We wanted it, that’s for sure. We came out, we were great, we were controlling the play and then we had a couple of breakdowns and a lot of these breakdowns are our fault. It’s not like a team is making all these great plays. We’re beating ourselves. But we came back and we’re better for it.”

The Sts sheet in this one was close. The Flyers outshot the Jets 31-30. Both teams had 28 hits. Both teams won en equal number of face-offs. A big difference was special teams. The Jets were zero-for-five on the power play while the Flyers were two-for-four.

On the downside, Jonsson-Fjallby had to be helped off the ice with 4:45 remaining in the third after blocking a shot by Philadelphia defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen.

Jets D-man Neal Pionk had the best stats line mod the night — plus-four with an assist and three blocked shots in 21 minutes and 33 seconds of ice time. Stenlund’s line was impressive, as well: Plus-three with a goal, a shot, three hits and a takeaway in 13 minutes and 12 seconds.

The first-place Jets play again on Tuesday night in a big inter-divisional game against the Predators in Nashville. It will be a chance for the Jets to finish this five-game road swing with a winning record. Game time is 7 p.m. CST and it’s on TSN3.

Covered his first junior hockey game for the Sarnia Observer in 1968. Covered his first Jets game for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1980. Still thinks hockey is the bees knees.

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