WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets only made a quick two-game stop at MTS Centre this weekend, but it was long enough to display the best and worst of their qualities.
The Jets churned out a 5-4 overtime win against the visiting New York Islanders on Sunday night after surrendering a second-intermission lead. Two goals late in the third period erased a three-goal New York outburst earlier in the period that set up Evander Kane’s winning strike 1:59 into overtime.
Kane pushed the rebound of a heavy Olli Jokinen shot under Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. The win came against an Islanders’ team that had taken three of four meetings between the clubs last season came after the Jets beat the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night in a 4-2 come-from-behind win.
New York used three goals in the opening 9:53 of the third period to erase a one-goal lead Winnipeg had taken into the second intermission. Matt Moulson deflected a shot past Jets goaltender Al Montoya that snapped a 2-2 tie. Mark Streit pushed the visitors’ lead to 4-2 before the Jets stormed back with goals from Dustin Byfuglien and Alexander Burmistrov spaced 65 seconds apart that tied the game at 4-4 with 5:56 remaining.
The Islanders took an early lead before falling behind a goal early in the second period. However, the visitors used Nabokov’s strong work to hold the deficit at one goal before John Tavares tied the game 2-2 in the first minute of the third period. Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom slipped at his own blue line and allowed Tavares to break in and beat Montoya under the crossbar 22 seconds into the period for his first goal of the season.
David Ullstrom also scored for the Islanders, a pesky bunch that hung in the game despite registering just 15 shots over the first two periods. Nabokov, who had a night off in Friday’s 4-2 road loss to the Boston Bruins, returned to action to make 30 saves.
The Jets picked up offensive contributions from Alexei Ponikarovsky and Bryan Little, who scored their first goals of the season. Byfuglien’s third-period power play goal with 7:01 remaining sliced the Islanders’ lead to one goal. Burmistrov then snapped a high shot past Nabokov that tied the game. Montoya, signed in the offseason after spending last season with the Islanders, made his Jets debut against his former teammates and turned in a 21-save evening.
Winnipeg now embarks on a three-game road trip that begins Tuesday evening at Bell Centre in Montreal. New York’s five-game road trip continues at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Ullstrom’s second goal of the season put the Islanders up1-0 on their second shot of the game. Ullstrom used Enstrom’s giveaway to head up a 2-on-1 rush into the Winnipeg zone with Keith Aucoin. Ullstrom snapped a shot from the left dot that fooled Montoya 2:34 into play and pushed his scoring streak to four games.
The Jets answered just 31 seconds after the Islanders had killed off the hosts’ second man-advantage. Burmistrov’s heavy hit took Tavares out of the play allowing the Jets to pin the visitors in deep. Kyle Wellwood scurried behind Nabokov’s net before backhanding a short saucer pass into the low slot that Ponikarovsky made it 1-1 with a tip shot past Nabokov at 10:15. The goal was Ponikarovsky’s first since his overtime winner in Game 3 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinal with the New Jersey Devils.
Winnipeg broke the tie five minutes into the second period. Nik Antropov’s work along the boards deep inside the offensive zone put the Islanders under heavy pressure. Andrew Ladd collected the puck behind the New York goal line and directed a pass to Antropov inside the bottom right circle. Antropov redirected the pass into the slot to Little, who beat banged a shot past Nabokov for a 2-1 lead.
Despite dressing a roster that featured eight new faces, the Islanders continue to excel on the penalty kill. The Islanders landed themselves in early penalty trouble, putting the Jets on three power plays in the opening period. But New York, which began the evening having killed off all 13 opposing power plays that they had faced over the season’s first four games, held the Jets scoreless on all three chances.