Winnipeg Jets 5 Colorado Avalanche 4 (OT) (Jets 32-30-9, Home 17-14-6) – The game was the final in the five-game season series between the two teams, with every game being decided by one goal, four of them needing extra time.
The win moved the Jets to within four points of Phoenix (Coyotes home to Florida Thursday) and two points of ninth-place Dallas (Dallas in Philadelphia Thursday). Jets next play Saturday at home to Carolina (TSN 1290), before heading out of a five-game road trip that starts in Dallas Monday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290).
The Jets started the day with news that Dustin Byfuglien would miss the game with a lower-body injury, and in warm-up had Zach Bogosian go down with an upper-body injury, forcing Paul Postma who was to be a healthy scratch to scramble and get dressed in time for the opening period. Despite no warm up Postma recorded his first two points of the season. Eric Tangradi went on the Olli Jokinen-Blake Wheeler line in place of Byfuglien and scored his third of the year.
The Avs scored the opening goal 20 seconds in, Ryan O'Reilly putting one in off the skate of Bryan Little. But 2:55 later that line got the goal back, Andrew Ladd with his 20th from Little and Jacob Trouba. Eric Tangradi put the Jets in front banging home a goal-mouth pass from Wheeler, with Jokinen also drawing an assist. But on a delayed penalty against the Jets, Gabe Landeskog beat Al Montoya off a rebound to send the teams to the dressing rooms tied 2-2. Shots were 12-8 Colorado.
Evander Kane with his 16th put the Jets in front, scoring off a great redirect pass from Devin Setoguchi. Postma picked up his first point of the season on the goal. But the Avs again tied the game, with Nick Holden scoring with 31 seconds left in the period. Jets outshot the Avs 11-5 in the second but only managed one past Reto Berra, making his Avalanche debut, but it was the third time this season Berra has faced the Jets, the previous meetings coming when he was with the Calgary Flames.
It was much the same in the third, with the Jets getting a power play goal from Ladd to again take the lead. Wheeler and Toby Enstrom drew assists. For Ladd it was his 21st of the season and franchise-leading 67th as a Jet. For Enstrom it was his 200th NHL assist. But yet again the Avs came back. Cody McLeod with his third of the year on a two-on-one break made it 4-4 and that is the way regulation ended. Shots in the third were 8-7 Avs.
So with each team assured a point, it was off to overtime. For the Jets it was the sixth time in the last 12 games they have gone to extra time. Wheeler ended it with his 24th of the year, assists to Postma and Enstrom. Wheeler outwaited Berra and had room after Berra anticipated a pass and left the side of the net open. It was Wheeler's second overtime winner this season, both against Colorado. In five games against the Avs Wheeler has gone 5-5-10. He also has a franchise-leading 164 points as a Jet, and is now 1-7-8 in the last four games, 2-13-15 in the last 15 games, 9-19-28 in the last 27 games. Enstrom is now 1-5-6 in his last four games. Final shots were 27 apiece.
It was the Jets 39th one-goal game of the season. Jets are 4-4-4 in the last 12. Trouba for the 14th time this season led the Jets in ice time at 24:17, while for the second straight game Ladd led in shots on goal with six. Jokinen and Little each took 23 face-offs, Jokinen winning 12, Little 11. It was a season high in ice time for Tangradi at 17:07, and also for Eric O'Dell at 15:39. He has been over 15 minutes in each of his last three games.
Jets are now 13-7-4 under Paul Maurice with 11 games remaining, four at home. Post-game Maurice talked about not being able to hold the lead. "It didn't feel like that over the course of the game, it wasn't a matter of getting the lead, sit back and let them come. Being able to control yourself mentally with the magnitude of the game, that when one goes in on you being able to bounce back.
"You saw it in our captain, who gave up a goal on their first shift and that's their assignment," continued Maurice. "And then the next shift go out and come back and score. That leadership is important on the bench and that tone was set early."
Maurice said he expects Bogosian in the lineup Saturday and there is also a chance Byfuglien, Jim Slater and Ondrej Pavelec may be ready for Saturday as well.