Video: POSTGAME | Flames 3, Jets 2 (SO)
CALGARY - In what was the final tune-up before the start of the regular season, the Winnipeg Jets came back to tie the Calgary Flames twice, but Sean Monahan's shootout winner proved to be the difference in a 3-2 shootout loss to close out the preseason.
Patrik Laine scored twice - his team-leading fourth and fifth goals of the preseason - while Kris Versteeg and Mikael Backlund each netted their first of the exhibition schedule for the Flames.
"There was a lot I liked about the game. I thought we were pretty resilient. It was a pretty good battle," said head coach Paul Maurice.
"It's still not regular season, it's still not the same. They had their guys in their line-up and they want to play well. They're working. It was a good work effort from them I think, and I think ours was pretty darn good too."
Monahan was the only shooter to score in the shootout, and Mike Smith turned away attempts from Kyle Connor, Laine, and Nic Petan in the skills competition.
Video: POSTGAME | Steve Mason
Steve Mason stopped 31 Calgary shots in regulation and overtime, before turning away Matthew Tkachuk in the shootout.
"They're part of the game. It's a skills competition but it can be an extremely important part of the game come playoff time in terms of making it or not, so we have to be good in it," said Mason.
"I think tonight was an indication that it's just getting better. The guys worked extremely hard… unfortunately we just couldn't come up with it in the shootout."
Video: Laine scores a beauty off the rush
The two teams traded chances throughout the first period, but the Flames used a late 5-on-3 power play chance to get on the board first.
In the final minute of the opening frame, Andrew Copp blocked a Mark Giordano slap shot off his leg. While the 23-year-old Michigan product was still trying to get to his feet, the Flames re-entered the zone with Johnny Gaudreau finding Giordano, who slid it cross crease to Versteeg for the game's opening goal.
After being helped down the tunnel to the dressing room, Copp was done for the night.
"He took that shot. X-ray was negative, but we're going to take a look at it again when we get back. Real quick it got big on him, it swelled up right on the knee," said Maurice. "I hope he's alright because he was playing a fine game of hockey and that was a heck of a block."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
The Jets had an early 5-on-3 advantage of their own in the second period, but while the team's red-hot power play couldn't convert on that opportunity, it didn't take much four-on-four time for Winnipeg's offense to come alive a few minutes later.
Laine brought the Jets back even with his first of the night seven minutes into the second period. Carrying the puck through the neutral zone, Laine cut to the middle just over the Flames' blue line, and used Travis Hamonic as a screen, as he ripped a snap shot bar down on Smith's glove side.
It was Laine's fourth goal and seventh point of the preseason, with assists going to Tucker Poolman and Toby Enstrom.
Video: Laine's second of the night
"I won the draw, which was a surprise to me," Laine said. "Toby gave me the puck and I saw there was an open lane. I tried to skate as hard as I can, and I had angled the first guy, and tried to shoot. It wasn't a good angle, but I just tried to get a shot off and it went in."
The Flames took the lead back in the third five minutes into the third, when Mikael Backlund was in the right spot at the right time. Sam Bennett's pass attempt to the left wing deflected off the stick of Dmitry Kulikov, right on the tape of Backlund, who slipped a wrist shot through the legs of Mason for his first of the preseason.
With under eight minutes left in regulation, penalties to Backlund (cross-checking) and Hamonic (roughing) put the Jets back on a 5-on-3 advantage. When Smith stopped the initial shot and deflection from Mark Scheifele, the rebound came to the stick of Nikolaj Ehlers, who quickly fed it to Bryan Little at the face-off dot. Without hesitating, Little sent a one-touch cross-ice pass to Laine who wired home the one-timer from the top of the left wing circle.
Video: POSTGAME | Patrik Laine
The Jets are off on Sunday, and have two practices on Monday and Tuesday before opening the regular season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bell MTS Place on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
"We'll lean it down to four lines plus a couple guys and get moving up and down the ice," Maurice said of his plan for the two days of practice. "There's probably six things that we looked at really hard here. We'll cover those. It'll be a little bit more of a grind on Monday, and we'll try to get back to speed (on Tuesday).
"The first day is going over the first week we had, the second day will be the second week we had, then drop the puck on Wednesday."