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Jets rally from four-goal deficit to beat Devils in a shootout

Jets score four unanswered goals; Wheeler nets shootout winner

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

NEWARK, NJ - With about five minutes to go in the second period, the Winnipeg Jets were trailing the New Jersey Devils 4-0.

But the bench remained positive.

"Someone said we just need one," Neal Pionk recalled.

Dmitry Kulikov got that one with 10.3 seconds left in the period to cut the deficit to 4-1.The Jets rode that momentum into the third period, getting goals from Jack Roslovic, Mathieu Perreault, and Pionk to tie the game.

In the shootout, Blake Wheeler sealed the come-from-behind 5-4 victory.

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

"The important part is sticking together and doing it as a team," said Wheeler. "I'm pretty proud of that group for sure."

Laurent Brossoit finished with 35 saves on 39 shots, shutting the door in the third period by turning away 12 shots, another in over time, then three of four in the shootout.

"It was more after (our) second one that a real momentum shift kind of started," Brossoit said. "After the third one, it was like the belief was really there and evident. We started gaining a lot of momentum in terms of energy. It was contagious and I took advantage of that as well."

Head coach Paul Maurice liked what he saw from Brossoit throughout the game, even if the start of the night wasn't what the Jets were looking for on the back half of back-to-back games.

"First period was like eating a sand sandwich on toast," said Maurice. "Then it devolved, or maybe got better into nobody defended. So it got exciting at the end. But we get to carry that one, we get to keep that one. It was a great comeback."

Video: Jets storm back to defeat Devils in the shootout

Nikita Gusev's first NHL goal gave the home side a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.

The second period saw more from the Devils, with Blake Coleman scoring twice and Sami Vatanen adding one of his own.

Down 4-0, the Jets were facing this type of adversity for the first time with new faces in the dressing room.

"It's your first time handling it. We go into the third period and we have an opportunity to make this the way we handle tough situations," said Maurice. "They did that. You score the second one early and now it's a two-goal game, they had a four-goal lead, and now the pressure shifts to the other side."

The Jets cut into the lead in the final seconds of the period. Great work on the forecheck from the Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Nikolaj Ehlers line allowed the puck to get back to Dmitry Kulikov. The Russian defenceman fired a shot on goal that beat a screened Corey Schneider.

It was Kulikov's first goal since Feb. 6, 2018.

Video: POSTGAME | Neal Pionk

The momentum kept up early in the third as Jack Roslovic pulled the Jets within two 2:41 in. He pounced on a rebound - the result of a shot from Neal Pionk - and went top corner from the left-wing circle. 

Schneider injured himself on the play and left the game, bringing in Mackenzie Blackwood.

"I think in that situation of the game, the tides were turning," said Maurice. "It was a bad spot for the other goalie to come into. We were coming was playing a good game and was seeing the puck well and swallowing most of the shots he could see.

"You put a goalie into a situation where we're coming hot, it's a tough situation for him."

The Jets didn't let up. After some great work below the goal line, Andrew Copp found Mathieu Perreault in the slot. He had come into the zone undetected after a line change and his wrist shot beat Blackwood low on the glove side. Suddenly, the Jets were down by just one with over 12 minutes to go.

Perreault's two-point night gave him 15 points in 20 career games against the Devils.

"We stuck with it," said Perreault.

"We felt like we maybe deserved better last game and today didn't go our way in the first two (periods). But we found a way.

"It's so much fun. The fun we have in the room right now is unbelievable."

Video: WPG@NJD: Wheeler wins game for Jets in shootout

Pionk's first goal as a Jet proved to be the equalizer. The Jets hemmed the Devils in their zone for an extended shift, before Pionk fired a wrist shot through traffic that beat Blackwood with 7:25 to go in regulation.

"I figured at some point the puck had to go to the net," Pionk said. "Honestly I think it went in because Scheif went top the net. We had net front presence, the goalie likely didn't see it, and it went in."

Kyle Connor and Wheeler scored in the shootout, with Wheeler's winner acting as a bit of good karma.

The Jets captain hit the post twice from the top of the crease in the final seconds of regulation before putting a ridiculous move on Blackwood in the shootout for the win.

"I just wanted an opportunity," Wheeler said. "You play enough years in this league, you're going to look stupid. The good news is I have it within myself, I don't want to back away from an opportunity after missing a couple lay ups at the buzzer.

"I was going to score, that's just how I felt."

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