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Jets fall to Devils in a shootout to open home stand

Little leaves game with injury; Hellebuyck makes 31 saves

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Blake Wheeler described it as a "full-on grind."

In the first home game back from a road trip, the Winnipeg Jets battled the New Jersey Devils through 65 minutes to a 1-1 tie. However, for the first time this season, the Jets weren't able to come away with the second point in a game that went past regulation time, falling 2-1 in the shootout to the Devils.

"We have to battle for every inch, stay in the fight, and stay with it. All easier said than done, but for the most part our team has done that this year," said Wheeler. "There hasn't been any give. Obviously there have been times when we haven't played our best, but for the most part it has been us fighting through it and trying to salvage a result."

Andrew Copp scored the Jets goal in regulation, his second of the season. Connor Hellebuyck was solid in goal finishing the night with 31 saves on 32 shots.

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Outside of that, the only pucks that got by him were the shootout attempts of Nikita Gusev and Jesper Boqvist. Meanwhile, Jets shooters Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor couldn't beat Mackenzie Blackwood, who ended the game with 32 saves of his own.

"I thought we got a little better as the game went on," said Copp. "I think we hold ourselves to a pretty high standard. We didn't play all the way up to that, but it's not like we were off by a lot. We did some good things, obviously played well defensively, Bucky was great again. Some good things, but we have to keep building."

The Jets (8-7-1) had won seven straight over the Devils coming into the night, but weren't able to break through offensively on Tuesday.

Copp's line with Adam Lowry and Jack Roslovic combined for five shots on goal.

"I thought from the start we were playing pretty fast," said Copp. "We had a couple plays on our forecheck that we knocked down that were one bounce away from creating a chance for us.

"I thought we were on it from the get go. Specifically (Lowry) and I had a good PK. So that got us into the game too."

Video: POSTGAME | Andrew Copp

New Jersey opened the scoring with Nico Hischier's second of the season, the result of a rebound from a sharp angle shot from Taylor Hall 4:44 into the opening period.

"The first one is just a miscommunication. I let Hall slip to the net and a few too many guys saw their D walking into a one-timer there, so they made a nice play. They had three guys at the net and we had two," said Wheeler.

"That was a small little mistake that ends up in our net."

It stayed that way until 8:38 into the second period when Josh Morrissey fired a shot from the point that was tipped on the way by Copp. The deflected puck dropped about three feet and caught the inside of the post behind Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood.

It was Copp's second of the season and it tied the game at one.

"Just a good shot by Josh. I kind of messed up entering the zone. Kind of a half turnover there," said Copp. "I got fortunate that it went right to Josh. I knew he was going to try and get one through. I've been working on tips after practice and what not, so good to see that pay off."

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

From there, the teams worked for every piece of open ice they could find, with the Devils holding a slight edge in shots on goal (10-9) in the final 20 minutes.

The Jets held the edge in overtime, out shooting New Jersey 4-1 with Mark Scheifele having arguably the best chance, but his one-timer sailed just wide.

For the second consecutive overtime, Maurice put a trio of three forwards together. This time it was Scheifele, Connor, and Wheeler. It's a look he plans to go to in certain situations.

"When you're concerned about the shift length of your back end," said Maurice. "We've got, maybe with Tucker (Poolman) in there, another defenceman that's used to getting up the ice. 

"But with having two defencemen in Morrissey and (Neal) Pionk that have played a lot of heavy minutes going into the overtime, you'll see us use three (forwards) more."

Next up, the Jets face off with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

Video: NJD@WPG: Copp redirects home Morrissey's blast


Bryan Little left the game in the third period after a Nikolaj Ehlers slapshot from the point caught him in the ear.

The Jets centre - who had missed nine games with a concussion earlier this season - stayed down for several minutes before being helped off the ice by Ehlers and Head Athletic Therapist Rob Milette.

Maurice didn't have an update immediately following the game.

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