The Winnipeg Jets came all the way back from a 2-0 deficit, scoring three unanswered goals – including two, 95 seconds apart in the third period – to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 and secure their first win when trailing after two periods this season.
After Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford got the Jets on the board and back even, Adam Lowry broke a 2-2 tie with 10:59 to play, converting a beautiful pass on a 2-on-1 with Scott Kosmachuk for the winner. Kosmachuk delivered a perfect, 25-foot saucer pass over the stick of a sprawling Avalanche defender, springing the pivot, who stuffed the shot five-hole.
The assist was Kosmachuk’s first in the NHL. He celebrated in style, jumping up and bear-hugging his teammate behind the net.
“I wheeled around the net and (Lowry) was there and he was yelling. The expression on his face got me pretty excited,” Kosmachuk said. “I jumped right up and he caught me. I was hanging there for a few seconds. It was an awesome feeling.”
Kosmachuk has now played three games after being recalled on Mar. 8. He finished the night a positive possession player, adding four individual scoring chances in 13-and-a-half minutes of ice time.
The Jets were 0-24-3 when trailing after two periods this season, and just 1-44-7 over the past two campaigns combined.
Consider the dragon slayed.
“I felt that when we get down a goal, we change our style of game and lose our speed through the neutral zone, which doesn’t let us get the offensive zone time that we need. We didn’t come off that at all (tonight),” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “Even when we were down 2-0, there were probably only three or four minutes in the second period that I didn’t like. The game was very consistent start to finish tonight. We battled hard, competed hard. I liked it.”
Erik Johnson opened the scoring for the Avs at the four-minute mark of the second period. Showing great speed off the rush, Matt Duchene then dished off to the defenceman, who made no mistake from the high slot, firing a shot five-hole for his 10th of the year.
A PPG padded the lead just a minute and 53 seconds later. After Pavelec made what should have been the save of the year off Jarome Iginla, Duchene dug the puck free in the blue paint, burying it amid a sea of blue sweaters. Dustin Byfuglien was livid with the call, believing the puck was covered and that the play should have been blown down before it was pitchforked free from under the goalie.
Scheifele pulled the Jets within one with a power-play goal at 16:29, extending his point streak to a career-high seven straight games (7G, 4A). From the top of the right circle, Scheifele made a quick move to the inside, changing the angle ever-so-slightly before rifling a shot far side for his team-leading 22nd.
With an assist later in the game, Scheifele now has 17 points in his last 11 games overall.
“That was his finest game in the last three weeks, regardless of the hat trick, or any of the other games. He played a fantastic game,” Maurice said.
He was hard (on the puck down low), he defended really well, and then of course, he scored the goal. That was as good a game as I’ve seen Mark play in a long, long time.”
The Jets, who once trailed 19-12 in shots, finished the period on an 11-3 run.
“We were definitely happy to get that one. It just got us rolling,” Scheifele said.
“We were happy with our game after the second period. We weren’t going to have to change much – just continue doing what we were doing.”
Stafford tied things up at 7:26 of the third, shovelling home a loose puck after Scheifele delivered a pass into the feet of the netminder, creating a rebound in tight.
Lowry’s fifth gave the Jets their first and only lead of the night at 9:01 of a highly entertaining final frame.
“(The Scheifele line) has really been carrying us offensively over the last couple weeks, for sure. It’s nice that we were able to chip in,” Lowry said.
“We were pretty excited. I think I held him in the air for a few seconds. It was an unbelievable pass. I’m really happy for him.”
LATE HITS: Blake Wheeler came down with the flu just moments before the pre-game warmup, but still managed to record five shots in a near season low 13:55 of ice time.
“Blake said he could play,” Maurice said. “That’s why there were so many line changes, him being late (to come out) at the start of the game – he was getting IV’s. … He had to spend an awful lot of time in the men’s room.”
Julien Melchiori, who was recalled from the Manitoba Moose on emergency basis because of a question mark on D, was on standby if Wheeler couldn’t play, but the veteran gutted it out.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com