WINNIPEG - Magic.
Plain and simple.
There are nights in this great game of ours when we're lucky enough to observe history. As a fan, you know the feeling better than anyone; the unmistakable sense of elation knowing you were there to watch it all unfold in person.
Tonight was one of those nights.
Tonight, we witnessed history.
Patrik Laine scored his first NHL hat trick to help the Jets overcome a four-goal deficit and defeat the Toronto Maple leafs 5-4 in overtime.
Laine, the No. 2 pick in last June's draft, scored the winning goal almost immediately after Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson stopped the No. 1 selection, Auston Matthews, on a breakaway.
Dustin Byfuglien sent the puck up to Laine on the right-wing boards, creating a 2-on-1 with Nikolaj Ehlers. Laine looked off at the top of the circle and fired a beauty past Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen for the winner.
I swear, the very foundation of his place shook.
And this, after already scoring twice - including one with the goalie pulled with just 55 seconds left in regulation - to help the Jets rally from a four-goal deficit and send it to overtime.
"It's the best league in the world and I scored three goals," said Laine, humble as always, before adding of the winner: "It went right where I wanted it go. It was an amazing feeling to help my team win with those goals."
It was a party like none other. I've been to Chicago, Los Angeles and the rest - the biggest of the NHL's grand theatres. Loud? You bet. But the truth is, nothing compares to this building when the going's good.
Asked whether or not he heard the fans, who were chanting his name throughout the third period, Laine quipped: "Yeah. Who wouldn't hear them?
"It was an amazing home crowd. They were supporting us the whole time, even when it was 4-0. It's just amazing to play here and they're just amazing fans. It's good that they're going to support us no matter what."
Video: POSTGAME | Patrik Laine
Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists, while Tyler Myers netted the other for Winnipeg, on a great feed from No. 55.
Head Coach Paul Maurice had the highest of praise for the 18-year-old following tonight's game:
"I've never seen anybody score goals like Patrik Laine does in practice ever, in 20 years (of coaching). He seems to have found a way to translate that into a game. He has a gift, there's no question about it. It's a different shot. He has his eyes up and he has the hands for it. Just a great deal of coordination and vision that he has."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
The Jets had trouble getting anything going at both ends of the ice in the first 35 minutes, leading Maurice to shuffle his lines in the third.
Laine, Scheifele and Drew Stafford formed the new top line, Ehlers, Mathieu Perreault and Blake Wheeler made up the second unit, while Shawn Matthias, Adam Lowry and Joel Armia rounded out the Top 9. Kyle Connor, Alexander Burmistrov and Brandon Tanev skated together on the fourth line, but saw only a few minutes of ice time.
But even with all that, a surge unlike any other, the magic happened when Ehlers and Laine hooked up, first with the net empty, and the other in overtime.
Hey, it's only fitting that on the week we turn back to the clock for the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic that we see a return of the high-flying, high-scoring game of the '80s.
Can we do it more often? Sunday, maybe? Sign me up.
After Myers got things rolling offensively late in the second period, the Jets took over in the final frame. And it started with No. 29.
Scheifele won the draw back to Byfuglien, who found Laine in front for the turnaround wrister that cut the deficit to two. With Toronto defenceman Martin Marincin all over him, the rookie spun, fired and found a sliver just under the bar for his second of the season.
Laine's ability to get a quality shot off in almost any situation bears repeating: It's ridiculous.
The Jets made it a one-goal game at 6:05. The initial blast from Josh Morrissey was blocked in the high slot, but Scheifele was quick to the scene, pouncing on the loose pill, pulling to the middle and firing that patented wrister of his high, blocker side.
Laine did the rest in the final minute, off a terrific feed from Ehlers after faking a shot at the right point.
Video: WPG@TOR: Laine fires a PPG, ties game late in the 3rd
This was the first time in franchise history the club has come back from a four-goal deficit to win.
"It was awesome," Scheifele said. "Every guy was unbelievably excited for him. He should be over the moon right now. He played an unbelievable game and stepped up when we needed him."
Toronto built up a 2-0 lead after one on goals by Connor Carrick and Nazem Kadri before a pair of power-play markers looked to put this one out of reach.
But it wasn't. Not with Laine ready to make a statement at the other end.
A magical one at that.
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com