WINNIPEG - It all starts with an identity.
Without it, you won't go very far.
The 2016-17 Winnipeg Jets have not only established one, but they're now engrossed by what it takes to be that, to play that way, night in and night out, and to have success as one of the NHL's newest high-speed, highly skilled franchises.
But don't believe me. I'll let the results do the talking.
Mark Scheifele scored the shootout winner, while Adam Lowry and Marko Dano each had goals in regulation, powering the Winnipeg Jets to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at MTS Centre.
Video: LAK@WPG: Scheifele rips a wrister for the SO winner
Patrik Laine also scored in the shootout - his first-career attempt - while Connor Hellebuyck stopped two of three to give Winnipeg the win. Hellebuyck made 27 saves, including 17 in the final 25 minutes, to record his sixth win of the campaign.
In the shootout, Laine made a beautiful move, surprising everyone by electing not to shoot, and instead pulling off a magnificent deke, going backhand-forehand before stuffing it five-hole on LA goalie Peter Budaj.
Video: LAK@WPG: Laine shows off moves for shootout goal
"I think 95 percent of Manitoba thought he was going to shoot that puck," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "He does a lot more with the puck than just shoot it. You'll see that a lot more as he gets his timing down."
Lowry added an assist, while Toby Enstrom had a pair of helpers to round out the numbers offensively. The Jets now have points in four straight are back above .500 at 8-7-2 on the year.
"We've identified our game," captain Blake Wheeler said. "We know what it looks like when we're playing the way we're supposed to play - and I don't want to say it's easy to play that way every night - but it's easier when everyone buys into it. It really feels like we've got every guy in here playing the same way. … It makes it a lot of fun to play."
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
The Jets, who were playing their third game in three-and-a-half days, led 2-1 after 40 minutes, but LA defenceman Tom Gilbert tied the game at two with his first of the year at 12:58 of the third. With the Kings outshooting the Jets 13-5 at this point in the final frame, Gilbert took a nice pass from Jordan Nolan and buried a shot from the high slot, beating a screened Hellebuyck clean past the glove.
"We were maybe a little conservative to start the third," Wheeler said. "Up 2-1, we've played a ton of hockey recently and our batteries aren't at 100 percent by any means. We were just trying to hold onto that lead a little bit."
The Jets were outshot 15-8 in the third, and 2-0 in overtime, thanks in large part to a pair of penalties that put them down a man for more than three minutes.
But the Jets didn't wilt.
"There's been a great consistency to our game in terms of style of play," Maurice said, proud of his team's effort amid a brutal schedule. "We expect them to play the way they did, with the energy they had in the first two (periods) I thought that was a really telling place. We understood where we needed to go with our game and have been able to get that. There's a better understanding of what our game is supposed to look like and what our players are asked of."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
With the Kings leading 1-0 on a Tanner Pearson goal midway through the opening frame, the tide turned when LA forward Kyle Clifford was given a five-minute major for boarding Winnipeg rookie Kyle Connor. Connor, who was chasing a loose puck deep in his own end, looked up, slowed down and prepared for the hit, but was needlessly driven head first into the end boards. Connor stayed down for several minutes before getting up under his own power.
Cashing two on the ensuing power play, the Jets took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Lowry levelled the score with his fourth of the campaign at 14:05. Nic Petan made a great play on a 3-on-2, driving a low shot into the pads of Budaj and forcing a rebound out between the hash marks. Lowry, crashing the net, made no mistake, plunging a shot into the open side for the equalizer.
"This year I've definitely felt better. Last year I wasn't real happy with how my year went and I came in and worked hard, just trying to contribute any way I could," he said. "We're missing a lot of key guys from our lineup, so we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. … We're just trying to get better every day."
Video: POSTGAME | Adam Lowry
Dano tied things up with just five seconds left in the penalty, finishing off a great pass from Toby Enstrom, who found him alone at the doorstep after getting the puck from Lowry at the top of the right circle.
The Slovak, who was bumped up to the top alongside Laine and Scheifele, now has three goals and four points in seven games since being recalled from the Manitoba Moose.
"Just trying to play simple game. That's what I'm strong on, and I'm just trying to do my best every game," he said.
Video: LAK@WPG: Dano finishes Enstrom's slick feed for PPG
"We have a young team and everyone wants to step up now. We have a good group of guys and are staying tight in the locker room, and that shows up on the ice."
The defenceman, who is the subject of our latest InFlight feature (available Monday on WinnipegJets.com) assisted on both PPGs.
Hellebuyck wasn't overly busy, but he was good when he had to be. Early in the third period, Tyler Toffoli sent Jeff Carter in alone on a breakaway, but Hellebuyck made a great glove save to keep the Jets in front.
Shots on goal favoured the Jets 13-6 into a mostly one-sided opening period.
Connor, meanwhile, returned for the second period after the Clifford hit sidelined him for most of the first.
Pearson opened the scoring for the Kings at 5:38, after the Jets recorded four of the first five shots of the game. Pearson, who entered the day tied for the team lead in goals (5), took a pass off the rush and sent a fluttering shot from the top of the circle past Hellebuyck.
The puck may have changed direction off the stick of Dustin Byfuglien, causing Hellebuyck to wave it and miss with the glove.
LATE HITS: Tyler Myers did not play after leaving Friday's game with a lower-body injury. There is currently no update on his condition. Jacob Trouba took over on the second pairing, playing 27:53 alongside Toby Enstrom. … Paul Postma drew back into the lineup and was paired with Ben Chiarot on the third pairing. … With Alexander Burmistrov nursing an undisclosed injury, Oakbank native Quinton Howden made his Jets debut. The 24-year-old skated on a line with Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev.
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com