With Saturday's win the Winnipeg Jets finish their season high six-game road trip at 4-2. They are back to a game above .500 on the year and back to .500 on the road. It was their 10th extra time game of the year, and only the second one that did not got to a shootout.
Mark Scheifele, with his first career overtime goal, was the hero for the Jets. It was also his third goal of the season. Scheifele scored the first goal of the trip (November 25th in New Jersey), and the last goal of the trip.
The loss against Florida Thursday did not sit well with the Jets and it showed on the ice as they outshot Tampa 15-5 in the first, the only goal coming on a deflection by Blake Wheeler, his seventh goal of the season. It was Wheeler's 100th career goal. It was the fourth time in the six games the Jets opened the scoring in the game. It was a shot by Jacob Trouba that Wheeler defected, with Grant Clitsome also picking up an assist. The play started with a faceoff win by Bryan Little. The first period faceoff stats very much favoured the Jets.
The second period saw the Lightning start to gain momentum, especially in the second half of the period. The Jets were guilty of some turnovers, and add the long change in the middle period, it resulted in some long shifts and more time in their own end. The shots still favoured the Jets 14-12, and both Anders Lindback and Al Montoya played very well. It was Tampa's 12th shot of the period that tied the game.
An icing call resulted in a faceoff with 2.6 seconds on the clock. Martin St. Louis got the puck to the front of the net before the puck even settled on the ice, and Nate Thompson one-timed it home to tie the game with .2 seconds on the clock. Lindback made a terrific save off Devin Setoguchi when it was still 1-0, keeping his team just down a goal.
Tampa outshot the Jets 12-6 in a scoreless third period with Montoya robbing Nikita Kucherov in the back half of the period to keep it tied at one. With 10 of the Jets 14 road games being decided by one goal, not a surprise the game went to overtime.
The first good chance came from Alex Killorn as he had a partial breakaway only to hit the inside of the post. Scheifele lost his footing as he got the puck to the centre ice area, but managed to get it to Wheeler. Wheeler carried it into the Lightning zone, while Scheifele made his way to the front of the net, stick on the ice and eye on the puck as Wheeler put it to the back post where Scheifele was able to redirect it into the net to end the game at 1:04 of overtime and end the road trip with a win.
Setoguchi lead the Jets with six shots on goal tying his season high, Dustin Byfuglien had five. Little won 15 of 24 faceoffs, Olli Jokinen 11 of 20, Scheifele 7 of 12.
Byfuglien again played more than 26 minutes to lead in ice time, Trouba second at more than 24, his highest total since returning from injury at the start of the trip. Trouba took a shot off the hand late in the game, left in some discomfort, but was okay.
The power play went 0/16 on the trip, the penalty kill was successful on 14 of 15. The Jets are now 8-3-1 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The only game on the trip the Jets gave up more than two goals was the loss against the Panthers. Jets were again minus Evander Kane, still listed as day to day with a lower body injury. In his absence Chris Thorburn set season high's for ice time and also had success in the faceoff department. It was a good trip for him, including a two assist game against the Rangers.
“We really had a good first period,” said coach Claude Noel post-game. “They had a good second and the late goal could have unnerved us but we came back and played good in the third. We had a solid game. 3-3 would not have felt very good, 4-2 on the trip is a lot more comforting.”
With the Jets dominating the opening period it made for a tough game for Montoya with not a lot of shots. “He was really strong and a tough game,” continued Noel. “The late goal in the second would have been tough on everyone if we had lost. We caught a break in overtime with the goal post.”
The Jets now return home for three division games against St. Louis Tuesday, Colorado Thursday (both TSN Jets, TSN 1290), and Dallas Saturday afternoon (TSN 1290). Then it's back on the road for two, with back-to-back games in Columbus and Buffalo.
Wheeler finished the trip 2-3-5 in the last five games with two points in the final game, giving him 2-10-12 in his last 14 games overall. Trouba had three assists in his last three games, plus the Ranger game where he had eight blocked shots. Scheifele 2-2-4 on the trip and 2-3-5 in his last seven games.
Other notes from the trip – Ondrej Pavelec started the trip with his 100th career win, Wheeler played his 400th NHL game, Jokinen scored against two of his former teams, getting two in New York and one in Florida. He has two, two goal games as a Jet, both at Madison Square Garden. Mark Stuart had his first goal of the season against the Islanders, and John Albert scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, that coming against the Rangers. Setoguchi was 3-2-5 on the six-game trip.