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Own goal sinks Jets in overtime

Jets battle back from 2-0 deficit, but lose in heartbreaking fashion

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick /

DENVER, Colorado - Blake Wheeler had these words of solace for his downtrodden teammate, Nikolaj Ehlers:

"Things happen, man.

"You wipe your hands of that one, take a shower and go home."

Really, that's about all you can do.

In the end, it will go down as a point earned for the Winnipeg Jets. How the other was lost - in heartbreaking fashion, no less - does not discount an otherwise good game for both the team and second-year forward.

Tough break. Things happen. Move on.

Ehlers accidentally shot the puck into his own net at 1:23 of overtime Friday to give the rested Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win.

The Dane tried to find Toby Enstrom with a pass in his own end, but the feed was off target, eluding goaltender Michael Hutchinson five-hole for the winning marker.

Ehlers, who assisted on both Jets goals to extend his career-high point streak to five straight games, could only shake his head, miffed at how it all played out.

Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers

"I thought I had two guys right by me. I just tried to throw it in the middle and get those two guys going (up the ice)," he said.

Rene Bourque, who scored earlier in the game as well, was credited with the goal, as he was the last player to touch the puck, ironically in a battle with Ehlers that he lost along the half wall.  

"He threw the puck at the net and it shouldn't have gone in the net," said Head Coach Paul Maurice, who did not place blame on the young forward. "It's a bad break and really had nothing to do with how the game was played. We played a real hard-fought road game on back-to-back nights against a team that was pretty darn desperate.

"Good point on the road, good effort from most of our guys."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

The Jets, who are 7-7-2 on the year, head home with three of a possible four points on this quick, two-game road trip.

Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets in regulation, while Hutchinson made 25 saves in a losing cause.

Ehlers, by the way, now has 10 points (2G, 8A) in his last five.

"A goal's a goal. We'll count it in the goal column for him," Wheeler said, laughing it off as best he could after a disappointing loss.

The Jets have to be proud of the effort, having battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the back of the middle frame after another tiring week of travel across the continent.

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

Wheeler got things rolling with his fifth of the season at 13:27, firing a shot just under the farm of Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov, after a Carl Soderberg turnover created a 2-on-1 from the top of the circles on in.

Wheeler, who went 13 straight without one, now has goals in back-to-back games.

Scheifele's power-play goal tied it up at 15:59, as he finished off a pretty, three-way passing play with Wheeler and Ehlers. Taking the pass in front, Scheifele made no mistake, bombing a shot far side, just under the bar.

The goal was Scheifele's 10th of the campaign, giving him an NHL-best 20 points in only 16 games this season.

Mikko Rantanen's first NHL goal opened the scoring for the Avalanche at 1:03 of the second period. With Mark Scheifele in the penalty box, Rantanen gathered a pass from Erik Johnson near the bottom of the right circle and fired beautiful shot short side, beating the goalie up under the bar.

Rantanen, who is one of Patrik Laine's best friends after playing together at the World Cup of Hockey, had just one assist in seven games entering the night.

Bourque drove hard to the net and put the Avalanche up by a pair at 9:35. The play began off the rush, with Tyson Barrie accepting a drop pass at the blue line before finding Bourque with a gorgeous feed at the doorstep.

"It was tough to give one up on the penalty kill. That kind of slowed our momentum," Wheeler said. "From there we rallied pretty well and got ourselves back in the game. It was good to bear down and get a point."

It was a 0-0 game with the shots in Colorado's favour, 9-7, after one period of play.

Laine rang a shot off the crossbar less than three minutes into the contest after getting a nice pass from Alexander Burmistrov, but that early opportunity stood as the period's best, and perhaps only, Grade A scoring chance.

LATE HITS: Jacob Trouba made his 2016-17 debut tonight, just five days after signing a new two-year, $6M contract. Trouba was paired with Ben Chiarot, recording two shots and three blocks in 23:14 of ice time. … Tyler Myers left the game early in the third period and did not return with a lower-body injury.

Video: POSTGAME | Jacob Trouba

"It was good," Trouba said. "I didn't really know what to expect but after the first period I started feeling the puck a little better and starting making better reads. There was some adjusting but overall it went pretty well.

"That's a tough way to lose a game, but we've got to be proud of our effort. It's a very resilient team to be a part of and it's fun to be on a team that has no give-up in it."

- Ryan Dittrick,

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