WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets hope that in five weeks from now, they won't look back on this as the one that got away.
It was right there for the taking, as the Jets played a sound, physical game against one of the league heavyweights, until a third-period power play went awry and all but ruined the Jets' hopes of securing at least one point in the wild-card playoff race.
The Jets outshot the Sharks 33-30 and we're the better team in stretches, but 31 saves from San Jose goalie Aaron Dell proved to be the difference as the Sharks prevailed 3-2.
"We played hard," said defenceman Josh Morrissey, who had one of Winnipeg's two goals on the night. "We did a lot of the right things and at this time of the year, it comes to those little bounces and those little details in games. We would have liked to close it out the right way in the third, but I think our game is in the right place right now. There's no sense in dwelling on games, we've got to move on to the next one. … We're not happy with the result, but we understand that we have to move forward here and have a short-term memory."
Mikkel Boedker broke a 1-1 tie with a shorthanded goal at 7:26 of the third period. Patrik Laine gave the puck away at the blue line, and after pulling away in a 125-foot race down the ice, Boedker made no mistake, firing a shot over the blocker and under the bar to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead.
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
Commenting on the giveaway, specifically, and Laine's overall game, Head Coach Paul Maurice said he expects the rookie to rebound on Wednesday after a bit of a tough go in this one.
"You feel it. There's no hiding on that one," the coach said.
"Now he's got to come back and play his best game in the next one."
Joe Pavelski scored into the empty net with 26 seconds left, with help from Joe Thornton who tallied his 1,000th career assist in the process, while Mark Scheifele added one in garbage time to ice a 3-2 final.
"We'll deal with it tomorrow and try to put it behind us so we're not carrying it more than one day," Maurice said. "It's going to be a tougher day. It will be a quiet start to tomorrow and then we'll get them fired back up. You can't carry (losses) for too long. We've got to get the energy back up tomorrow."
With the loss, the Jets remaining three points back of the St. Louis Blues for the final playoff spot, but the Blues have three games in hand.
"It's disappointing," Adam Lowry said. "We know of the importance of the points and trying to accumulate as many as we can. In our situation, we can't afford to be giving up points. To give up a goal with 10 minutes left and ultimately lose, that is unfortunate."
Pavelski scored on a rebound in tight to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 9:45 of the first, but the Jets got it right back less than two minutes later as Morrissey unloaded the top of the left circle, beating Aaron Dell clean over the shoulder to even the score.
Video: SJS@WPG: Morrissey keeps puck in zone, rips a slapper
The unassisted goal was Morrissey's fourth on the year and 17th point, after the Sharks failed to clear the zone, giving the defenceman all kinds to time to walk in and tee it up through traffic.
The Jets were far and away the better team in the opening 20, outshooting the Sharks 13-7 while getting the majority of the scoring chances and five-on-five shot attempts (25-13).
The Sharks had the upper hand in the middle frame, though, but Hellebuyck stole the show, stopping 16 in the period as the visitors jumped out a 23-20 lead on the shot clock.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic had the best chance for the go-ahead goal on a mid-period power play, but his blast from the near hash caught iron, keeping the game in a 1-1 draw.
"We had a shift in the second period where we had an awful lot of offensive zone time, but from that point on there was a good 20 minutes where we didn't put the puck at the net nearly enough," Maurice said.
"We came off it and that was the piece of the game we'd like to have back."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com