Video: ANA@WPG: Scheifele buries the game-winner in OT
WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets may not be heading to the playoffs, but in absence of the spring dance and with only a pair of home games left to impress (and entertain), they're going to make darn sure these final few leave a lasting impression on the 15,294 on hand, and beyond.
Mark Scheifele's career-high 30th goal of the season was the overtime winner as the Jets rallied from two down in the third period to take a 4-3 win over the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks.
Blake Wheeler made it a one-goal game at 11:35 and Dustin Byfuglien tied things up on a jam play with only 12 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
"We're not in the playoffs. We understand that. But the game has to be played," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "Your options are to do everything you can to win, to compete and battle as hard as you can, or you can use the idea that it's over and not stay in the fight. They haven't done that, and they haven't done that in a while."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
This is the second straight game the Jets have battled back from a 3-1 deficit to earn a win in extra time. As a result, they're now above .500 for the first time in a while.
"We've had the opportunity to see both oceans in the past week and we're not as quick or as sharp as we'd like to be, but the fight was good," Maurice said. "The set of circumstances we face when they came to the rink, the players handled it right."
The Jets were all over the Ducks in the third, outshooting them 17-2. And with as dominant a period as the Jets were having, it was only a matter of time before they took over.
It wasn't even close.
About midway through, the tide turned for good.
Nikolaj Ehlers turned on the jets and swung wide around the net before setting up Wheeler with a short pass at the far side. The captain made no mistake, slamming the one-timer past Jonathan Bernier for his 24th of the year.
With the Jets pouring it on the final minute, they finally caught a break when an Ehlers pass pinballed in front and was eventually poked home by Byfuglien, who bowled his way to the blue paint, leaving Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler in his wake.
Scheifele then won it with 1:26 to play in a back-and-forth overtime, scorching a one-timer up under the bar for the milestone marker.
"We don't want to just go out there and play," Ehlers said. "We've got 16,000 fans out there and a lot more watching on TV. It would not be very nice to them just to go out and play. But also for ourselves. We know we're a good hockey team. We haven't shown that as much as we've wanted to this year, and we want to finish off strong because next season, we might as well start looking forward to that now (instead of) waiting until September."
Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers
Joel Armia scored the other goal for Winnipeg, while Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves.
The 'drivers' were leaned on heavily in this one, with Scheifele playing a season-high 26:47, Wheeler 25:11 and Byfuglien - the NHL's leader in minutes played - a game-high 29:53.
"Obviously the playoffs are still out of reach, but there are still things to play for," Scheifele said.
"There was a lot of character shown tonight."
Jakob Silfverberg got the Ducks on the board first with a wicked shot off the far wall before the game was even 10 minutes old, but Armia got it right back for the Jets with a beautiful shorthanded marker at 11:54.
Armia, who now has 10 goals on the year, had the puck taken away by the superb defensive efforts of Ryan Getzlaf on the back check, but he stayed with it, got it back and surprised Bernier with a quick rip through the five-hole. The Finn was later put on the power play and nearly found the back of the net with a blistering shot from the left hash, but it kissed iron and sailed out of play.
Video: ANA@WPG: Armia beats Bernier five-hole for SHG
The goal - his 10th of the campaign - well, it was another highlight-reel special from a player with plenty of those already in his young career. Does a 15-20 season in the very near future seem plausible?
The coach thinks so.
"Keep in mind this guy came into the league as a shooter, a purely skilled guy, (but) you need to do enough to buy yourself time to get your opportunity to play with players that makes things happen, and he's doing that now," Maurice said. "He's still a young guy but we're starting to see some fight and some compete at a level that tells you, and we believe at some point that there's a lot more offence than he's shown so far."
Armia, 23, leads Winnipeg with four shorthanded goals on the year, and is only one off the league leader, Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators.
Unfortunately for the Jets, when Armia struck the post that seeing-eye laser, it seemed to turn the tide.
Moments later, and just after the penalty expired, Perry put the Ducks back in front with a backhander in tight. Antoine Vermette put a low shot into the pads on a partial odd-man rush, and Perry jumped on the rebound, hoisting it over the fallen Hutchinson at 18:56.
The Ducks opened up a two-goal lead with a power-play goal at 7:01, as Perry picked up his second of the night. The former 50-goal scorer walked off the right wall and confronted the Winnipeg D before slipping a shot between the wickets for his 18th of the year.
Video: POSTGAME | Mark Scheifele
But that was all the visitors had in them. The Jets took over and we didn't hear from the Ducks' top offensive players for the rest of the night.
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com