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Jets lose third period lead, fall to Canadiens 5-4 in overtime

Connor Hellebuyck stops 45 of 50 shots in losing cause

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

 

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets' power play was a perfect 3-for-3, but it wasn't enough as the Montreal Canadiens notched three goals on the man advantage of their own, including the overtime winner in a 5-4 decision at Bell MTS Place.

Patrik Laine, Andrew Copp, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler had the goals for the Jets, who let a 4-2 lead with under 12 minutes left in regulation slip away.

"Obviously we'd like to close that one out. You play 82 games, it's going to happen at some point. These guys came out hard. They were a desperate team," said Wheeler. "We got a point. We'll learn some things from this one and move on."

Despite the loss, the Jets still have points in 10 of their last 11 games, and have gone 7-1-3 in that span. Connor Hellebuyck has played a big role in that run, and was stellar again tonight, turning away 45 of 50 Montreal shots in a losing effort.

Video: POST GAME | Canadiens 5, Jets 4 - F/OT

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

"He got us a point. He's been playing real strong, but tonight he was especially good in a difficult game to play goal," said head coach Paul Maurice. "There was nothing clean or cleared easily in front of the net. He was outstanding."

Just as it did two nights ago, the power play got things started for the Jets. Blake Wheeler took a pass from Dustin Byfuglien, and while cutting to the middle of the ice, the puck slid off his stick, but right to Patrik Laine in the high slot. His quick release got through Montoya for the Finnish sniper's sixth of the season.

The Canadiens would tie the game with 41.9 seconds left on a power play chance of their own. With Dmitry Kulikov off for roughing, Jonathan Drouin's wrist shot from just outside the top of the circle was deflected by Andrew Shaw, beating a screened Hellebuyck.

Shaw and the Canadiens power play would strike again 2:55 into the second. Hellebuyck made the initial stop on a point shot from Shea Weber, but Shaw knocked the puck lose from Hellebuyck's glove, and slid in the rebound giving the visitors their first lead of the game.

Video: POSTGAME | Connor Hellebuyck

Before the middle frame ended though, the Jets would even things up. Brandon Tanev forced a turnover after battling with Weber and Victor Mete behind the Montreal net. Tanev quickly got it out front to an open Copp, who buried it in the open net with Al Montoya caught out of position.

It was Copp's second of the season, and Tanev's third point.

"We knew it was going to be a greasy, grindy game," said Tanev, who finished with four hits and two shots on goal to go along with his assist. "They're a hard working team. They're fast and they're on the puck. In situations when you're under pressure, it's a little bit more difficult to make some reads. They do well with that."

The Jets took the lead back 4:25 into the third, with Jeff Petry off for closing his hand on the puck. Nikolaj Ehlers - who missed a glorious opportunity in the second period - snapped a wrist shot from the left wing circle that went over Montoya's shoulder on the short side.

Wheeler extended the lead to 4-2 just 2:14 later, also on the power play. It was the move Jets fans have seen many times. Seeing an opportunity when Petry lost his footing, Wheeler flew around Petry and Jordie Benn, cut hard in front of Montoya and tucked the puck just inside the post on the far side.

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

With the three goals tonight, the Jets power play has lit the lamp six times in the past four games.

"The power play is going to have its ebbs and flows. It's going to have its ups and downs. We struggled a little bit there, made some adjustments, and it's clicking again," said Wheeler. "So that's a good sign. We had our guys going on the power play a little bit. If you score three, it should be good enough."

Tomas Plekanec brought the Canadiens back within one with 11:43 left in regulation, when he took a feed from a falling Brendan Gallagher, and sent a wrist shot from the high slot past Hellebuyck.

Petry tied the game with 4:44 on the clock. After some extended pressure in the Jets zone, Petry's wrist shot from the top of the circle got through a crowd and beat Hellebuyck on the glove side.  

"They got so many lucky bounces. I thought we deserved the win," said Hellebuyck. "We scored four goals and I felt like we were playing good as a team. They were getting a lot of shots, but that's just their style. They got those lucky breaks. You don't see that too often."

Video: POSTGAME | Brandon Tanev

In overtime, the Canadiens completed the comeback. With Tyler Myers in the box serving a cross-checking penalty, the puck Alex Galchenyuk sent a pass from behind the net under the stick of a diving Toby Enstrom to Max Pacioretty. The Canadiens captain shot it quickly from the slot, beating Hellebuyck on the stick side to give Montreal the win.

"They were quicker than we were. We were kind of comfortable playing that stick game. The puck is bouncing all over, and they were better at knocking it down than we were," said Maurice. "At the end of the day they shot everything they possibly could, and we couldn't control it around the front of the net. We've been real good around the front of the net. That's been a strength. Tonight we just weren't."

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