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Ehlers scores twice, including OT winner, to cap Jets incredible comeback

"You always dream of scoring these kinds of goals." -Ehlers

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Nikolaj Ehlers made sure his first game in 29 days was something special.

Scoring once in his return to the Winnipeg Jets line-up, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs no less, was impressive.

Adding the overtime winner to cap a historic, three-goal comeback to give his team a 5-4 win and 3-0 series lead over the Edmonton Oilers?

Phenomenal.

"You always dream of scoring these kinds of goals," said Ehlers. "But, for me, tonight, it was a matter of getting out there, play simple and use my speed as much as possible. But you know, this was a team effort. A full, I don't know how many minutes we played, but a full 70-plus good effort. Great game and it's exciting."

Video: EDM@WPG, Gm3: Ehlers buries shot off faceoff in OT

Along with Ehlers' two goals, his third and fourth postseason goals in his career, he had teammates who stepped up to push the game into overtime.

Mathieu Perreault, Blake Wheeler, and Josh Morrissey scored in a span of 3:03 in the third to turn a 4-1 deficit into a tie game.

Incredibly, only once in postseason franchise history have the Jets scored three times faster than 3:03.

It just so happens that one occasion also came in a Game 3, back in 2018 against the Nashville Predators, when Winnipeg erased a 3-0 deficit in 2:51.

Video: EDM@WPG, Gm3: Ehlers goes post and in on power play 

The only difference on this night? No fans in the building to enjoy it.

"It's just too damn bad our fans weren't in the building because that would have been something," said Wheeler. "It was obviously an exciting win. Coming back from three goals, it was exciting for our group, no doubt. But I think the biggest takeaway is you need to win another game. Definitely a thrilling game, definitely an exciting game but we've got to start focusing on tomorrow pretty quick here."

Similar to that game in 2018, if there were fans in the building, the Jets were faced with adversity early. 

The Oilers - and specifically Leon Draisaitl - scored twice in a 2:43 span in the first period to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Draisaitl's first of the series came on a put back, as Slater Koekkoek's blast from the point hit a stick and went off the end boards. Draisaitl tucked it inside the post before Connor Hellebuyck could get there to open the scoring 6:33 into the game.

Then on a two-man advantage, Draisaitl buried a loose puck after a play to the net from Kailer Yamamoto to double the Edmonton lead. Connor McDavid picked up assists on both goals, his first two points of the series.

Video: EDM@WPG, Gm3: Perreault gets bounce in front for PPG 

The Jets got one of those back on a power play of their own late in the second period. Ehlers, playing in his first game since April 24, wired home his first of the postseason from the left circle.

"It is very difficult to do what he did tonight -- to miss the amount of time he did and to come into a game of that magnitude and that speed -- and not just get by but to make a huge impact," said Wheeler. "I mean, we were counting down the days to get him back and we were itching to get him back into our lineup. He just means so much to our team."

Winnipeg was within one for a total of 64 seconds, as Zack Kassian finished off a rush chance with McDavid and Draisaitl to restore Edmonton's 3-1 lead before the end of the middle frame.

Edmonton made it 4-1 on Khaira's first of the postseason, but Josh Archibald's tripping penalty with 8:49 left in the hockey game seemed to turn the momentum.

Video: EDM@WPG, Gm3: Wheeler buries rebound in front of net 

First, Perreault potted Winnipeg's second power play goal of the game to cut the lead to 4-2.

The Jets power play finished 2-for-3 in the game, and the unit with Perreault, Ehlers, Pierre-Luc Dubois (who had two assists on the night), Andrew Copp, and Neal Pionk had a big part to play in that.

"There's lots of really good video for those guys to see. They move off each other well," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "They've learned to get really good on short time. They're probably going to get longer time now. But a short-time power play has forced that unit to get really fast and really aggressive with what they do. It's become who they are, and they're good at it."

With 5:32 to go, Wheeler pounced on a rebound off a Morrissey shot to pull the Jets within one goal with his second marker of the series.

Video: EDM@WPG, Gm3: Morrissey evens the score from deep

Then, just 16 seconds later, Morrissey tied the game with a wrist shot from the point that beat a screened Mike Smith to tie the game at four.

"We won the draw, got the puck in deep and I got a great pass from Lows first of all - great vision - and I just tried to get a shot through from the point," said Morrissey. "Thankfully it went in and it was just an exciting moment."

The teams played the final 5:16 without scoring, so for the second straight game, overtime was required.

That's when Ehlers worked his magic again, taking the face-off win from Paul Stastny and wiring it top corner on Smith to wrap up the magical night.

"That's our team. I mean, we don't give up. That's what's so fun playing on this team and after the OT winner you can see the joy," said Ehlers. "I mean, it's a wonder no one got injured at the end there during the celebration."

Still, there is more work to do. On Monday night, the two teams are right back at it in Game 4.

"I've never done the back-to-back in the NHL in the playoffs, so this is going to be a new event," said Maurice. "We're going to do our best to recover now to get ready to understand that it will be (the Oilers') backs against the wall, the best they have, a really, really hard push from that team."

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