WINNIPEG – All night it was an uphill climb.
When Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring just 1:38 into the game, it was the start of a never-ending chase for the Winnipeg Jets, who faced 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits before the well ran dry.
In the end, it was scored as a 6-2 Bruins win, and for the eighth time this season, the Jets were unable to extend a two-game winning streak to three.
“The simplest thing is that they got faster and we got slower,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “We couldn’t get to a puck, couldn’t come up with the puck and when we did we couldn’t move it quick enough.
“We came out right, got behind it, fought back, fought back…”
The Jets trailed the Bruins 3-2 after a wild, back-and-forth first period that saw the teams combine for 29 shots. Winnipeg held the edge in that department, 19-11, while also having the upper hand in even-strength scoring chances, 10-9.
Oh, how things change.
At one point in the middle frame the Jets were up 30-12 in shots, but the Bruins finished the period on a 12-0 run the final 10-and-a-half minutes, before registering the first five of the third.
The Jets went more than 17 minutes without a shot on goal.
“They turned it up to a level that we weren’t able to get to in the second half of the game and that was the difference,” said Blake Wheeler, who finished the night with two assists and a spirited fight with Bergeron.
The Bruin forward drew first blood when he finished off a pretty feed from Brad Marchand, but the Jets replied within minutes, tying the game off Bryan Little’s team-leading 17th. On a delayed penalty call, Blake Wheeler deked out a pair of defenders before finding Little, who hammered a one-timer past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Little had previously gone eight games without a goal, but he now has goals in two straight.
“For the first half of the game I thought we did a good job controlling the play,” he said. “We had a lot of shots and a lot of chances in front of the net. They were just the better team for the rest of the game. They were the better team when they needed to be.”
The Bruins took a 2-1 lead at 16:34 as Loui Eriksson jumped on a loose puck, drove to the net and fired a shot far side on Connor Hellebuyck, but once again, the Jets were quick to level the score. On the team’s 18th shot on the period, Nikolaj Ehlers buried a beautiful pass from Wheeler, who found a seam through traffic on the power play.
Just over a minute later, the Bruins went in front for the third time as Marchand showed great speed, turning a 1-on-1 into a clear cut break, and once in tight, roofing a backhander bar down over Hellebuyck’s left shoulder.
Hellebuyck did finish the period, but was replaced by Michael Hutchinson to start the second. He finished the night with 25 saves on 27 shots.
“Sometimes enough’s enough for a guy,” Maurice said of his decision to pull Hellebuyck. “To be great you’ve got to be real good and you’ve also got to have it going for you around the net.”
Bruins rookie David Pastrnak scored to make it 4-2 just 35 seconds into the third, all but putting the game away. On a 2-on-1 with Zdeno Chara, Pastrnak elected to shoot, burying his own rebound after Hutchinson made the initial save with his left pad.
Bergeron added another midway through the third when he crashed the net and chopped home a rebound, while Jimmy Hayes rounded out the scoring with empty netter at 15:12.
“We came out in the third and we looked tentative,” said defenceman Tyler Myers, who also had a bout in the loss. “Being down a goal we can’t play like that if we want to come back. They get the first one in the third and we’re caught chasing and it’s tough to come back like that.”
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com