WASHINGTON, D.C. - A common refrain reverberated around the Winnipeg Jets' locker room following a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. At the heart of it all: A deep sense of pride in both the jersey, and each other.
"You've got to be pretty pumped about way we played in the third," said Head Coach Paul Maurice.
"We haven't quit once this year," added captain Blake Wheeler.
Adam Lowry, one of the team's three-goal scorers on this night, joining the chorus: "It really shows the character we have in this room."
Isn't that the truth. Their resilience was on full display at the Verizon Center, as Lowry, Toby Enstrom and Marko Dano fuelled a furious third-period comeback that helped the Cardiac Kids erase a 3-0, third-period deficit, force overtime and ultimately gain a valuable point in the standings.
Unfortunately, they just couldn't get the other. Alexander Ovechkin scored a power-play goal 3:21 into the extra period to give the Caps the win - their second straight over the Jets.
Ovechkin scored another in regulation, while Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie had the others.
Michael Hutchinson made 28 saves for Winnipeg.
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
"You can't say enough great things about these guys," Wheeler said. "Everyone had a hand in that in the third period. You can definitely be proud about doing those things."
The Jets, who had a strong first, were outshot 18-4 in the second and soon found themselves in the deepest of holes. But they didn't give up.
This, without Bryan Little, Drew Stafford, Shawn Matthias, Tyler Myers, Mark Stuart and Chris Thorburn, who were all out with various injuries or, in Thorburn's case, a personal matter.
"We've got a resilient group, a young group of guys that maybe don't know any better, that we shouldn't be doing this every night," Wheeler said. "But man, we did in the first game of the season and we've continued to do it. … It's a pretty amazing feeling coming in the room after two periods being down 3-0 and knowing you've still got a shot to the hockey game."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
Enstrom got things rolling with a shorthanded marker, just 2:09 in, as he stepped up on a scramble in the high slot. John Carlsson's backhand pass up the middle was picked off by Brandon Tanev, who, after the creating the turnover, immediately put it back in the Capitals' end. Braden Holtby came way out of his net to make a play, but collided with Wheeler in a race for the loose puck. Following up, Enstrom circled the mass and found the net with a beautifully placed wrister, pulling the Jets within two.
Video: WPG@WSH: Enstrom makes a great effort, scores SHG
From there, it was all Winnipeg.
Lowry made it a one-goal game at 5:23 and Dano tied it just a few minutes later.
For Lowry, it all started by a terrific feed from Dustin Byfuglien, who circled the net and found him alone in the slot. No. 17 quickly corralled the pass, pulled back and popped a laser beam five-hole to give the Jets all the momentum.
A pretty finish by Dano evened things up with 9:49 to play, after Tanev, and then Andrew Copp, did some gritty work in the trenches to first free the puck from the end wall, and then dish it out to the right hash marks, where Dano soon arrived.
"We lost a couple of guys and got into a real short bench," Maurice said, noting that both Mathieu Perreault (upper body) and Joel Armia (lower body) left the game in the third period. They keep fighting back and you've got to give them credit for that. … We deserved to be behind in that game but we deserved to come back in it, too."
Video: POSTGAME | Adam Lowry
Despite outshooting the Capitals 10-4 in the first period, Winnipeg trailed 1-0 on a goal by Backstrom - his first of the year - with 5:21 to play.
Backstrom capitalized on one of the few defensive miscues by the Jets, due in part to the unfavourable matchup with the Capitals' top line. Ovechkin carried the puck across the blue line, pulled up just inside the left circle to evade of the check of Marko Dano and feathered a shot on goal. The rebound popped loose to Backstrom and after gathering it up at the side of the net, he hoisted a backhander over Hutchinson's left pad.
The Jets were the better of the two teams throughout the opening frame, but, as the reigning Presidents' Trophy winners have done so often over the years, they made their opponent pay dearly for those missed opportunities early on.
The home side doubled the lead early in the second after the Jets got caught chasing the puck deep in their own end. Andre Burakovsky won a battle behind the net and centered the puck out to T.J. Oshie, who made a nice move to the backhand before lobbing a shot over the sprawling efforts of the goaltender.
The goal came just 30 seconds after Mark Scheifele got a piece of a Dustin Byfuglien point shot, ramping it up and off the crossbar.
The Capitals took it to the Jets from that point forward in the middle frame, firing 18 second-period shots and limiting the road team to only a handful at the other end.
Ovechkin put the Caps up by a trey at 10:03, casually putting home a loose puck at the doorstep after an ill-conceived icing kept Julian Melchiori, Ben Chiarot and the rest out for an exhausting, minute-and-a-half-long shift.
"We laid an egg in the second period, but knowing we can come back, that's a new feeling, and it's a good feeling," Wheeler said "Even if you don't come back and force overtime, at least you know you had the chance, and that says a lot."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com