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Sharks edge Jets on Vlasic's late goal

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets
WINNIPEG – Marc-Edouard Vlasic broke a 2-2 tie with just 4.5 seconds left in regulation as the San Jose Sharks handed the Winnipeg Jets a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat on Monday night at MTS Centre.

Andrew Ladd and Jay Harrison scored for the Jets, while Michael Hutchinson, who was making his second straight start after allowing only a single goal in Saturday’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, was again sturdy between the pipes, making 34 saves in the losing effort.

The Jets will now head out on a three-game road trip, beginning on Thursday in Arizona.

“We went for the puck and didn’t get it,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said of the defensive zone faceoff that went awry in the waning seconds.

“It should hurt a little bit so there’s an advantage to having a couple days to deal with it tomorrow, and then get over it the next day.

“We’re going to look at it tomorrow. We’ll look at that (winning) goal, but that won’t be the focus. We’ll look at the first 30 minutes; look at it, talk about it and get back rolling.”

After the Sharks won a scrambled draw, Logan Couture fed a cross-ice pass to Vlasic, who rifled a shot upstairs on Hutchinson from the far circle.

“We hung around long enough to win the game. These are stingers, the ones you lose at the end like that – so close,” Harrison said.

“There will be time to reflect on this in the present, but we’ll take a moment and we’ll fix what’s wrong and (figure out) how we can build towards playing that 60-minute game. You’ve got to have a short memory. We play a lot of hockey games and there’s certainly a lot of hockey left.”

Added Ladd: “It’s going to sting tonight, but we don’t have time to sit here and sulk. We’ll chalk it up to a learning experience and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Mathieu Perreault was assessed a double minor for high-sticking at 1:17, giving the visitors an extended look with the extra man. Ninety-nine seconds later, Brent Burns wired a shot through traffic and past Hutchinson for the opening score.

A slashing penalty to Bryan Little put the Sharks on an extended 5-on-3 advantage only seconds later, but the Jets rose to the occasion and killed the remaining minutes with ease. San Jose went 1-for-7 on the power-play on a night when the Jets had a difficult time staying out of the box.

With the momentum in tow, Andrew Ladd brought the game back on level terms at 9:17, launching a one-time shot from the high slot past Antti Niemi. Little and fellow top-liner, Blake Wheeler, were credited the assists after a nifty grind gaining the zone made it all possible.

Shots on goal favoured the Sharks 11-4 after one period of play. The visitors held a 37-19 advantage in that category by night’s end.

The Sharks regained the lead early in the middle frame as Melker Karlsson, deftly cruising the goalmouth, tipped home a soft offering from Joe Pavelski, setting the score at 2-1.

“It sucks losing to begin with, especially when you’re close to the end and that close to at least getting a point, it’s really frustrating,” Hutchinson said. “I don’t think we played our best game for the full 60 minutes. We had a tough time getting anything rolling.”

Harrison’s first as a Jet 4:03 into the third tied the score once more, bringing the sold out crowd into a frenzy as 15,000 strong celebrated the defenceman’s beaming high slot slap shot.

Unfortunately for the Jets, that was all the offence they could muster.

“It’s an 82-game season and unfortunately you’re going to have games like this,” Hutchinson said.

“By tomorrow, it’s going to be forgotten.”

-- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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