WINNIPEG – Jakob Silfverberg scored with 58.6 seconds left in overtime to lift the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 win over the Jets on Sunday afternoon.
Michael Hutchinson made a terrific initial save, but Silfverberg stayed with it, gathering his own rebound and roofing a shot over the sprawled netminder after skating in alone.
It was an otherwise great night for the Jets, who went toe-to-toe with one of the NHL’s top teams for nearly 65 minutes and plenty of chances to win it.
“We owe it to the fans,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “This is not where we want to be. We want to put in a good effort out there, we want to play right and make it an exciting game.
“I thought we did that.”
Hutchinson, who missed at least one start due to the flu, had a strong outing between the pipes, stopping 30 as he fell to 8-13-3 on the year.
Paul Postma got the ball rolling for the Jets with his first of the year, six-and-a-half minutes into the opening period. His initial blast from the right circle was kicked out by the goaltender, but he followed up on his own rebound and ripped it past John Gibson for the game’s initial tally.
Postma’s last goal came on Dec. 11, 2014 – a span of 28 games.
“It was a bit of a monkey off my back,” Postma said. “I’ve had some chances lately, but I really beared down on that one. It was nice to see it go in.
“We weren’t happy with how we played in Chicago and we had to make up for that. For some reason our bench gets quiet and for some reason we get a little too down on ourselves when we get scored against. They got two quick ones right away, but we managed to battle back and put in a good effort. For the most part I thought we played a pretty solid game."
The Jets outshot the Ducks 14-11 after one, but a couple of key misses came back to bite them. After Blake Wheeler rattled the crossbar and Dustin Byfuglien was turned aside on a clear-cut break, the Ducks tied things up with a power-play goal at 16:01. With Alexander Burmistrov off serving a tripping minor, Jamie McGinn tipped home a Kevin Bieksa point shot for his 19th of the season.
The Ducks took a 2-1 lead just 20 seconds into the middle frame as a wide-open Ryan Kesler rocketed a one-timer past Hutchinson, but the Jets replied at 6:26 to bring the home side back on level ground.
Wheeler jumped on a loose puck at the lip of the blue paint, sweeping it home on the backhand after Ben Chiarot unloaded from the centre point, giving him 19 on the year.
“These are kind of our playoffs. We get to measure ourselves against teams that are going to be competing in them over the next couple months,” Wheeler said.
“As the game went on, we were committing to playing harder as the game got harder. Anaheim showed us ability to do that last year [in the playoffs]. That’s what it takes to win. In close games against heavy opponents you’ve got to move as the game moves and get better as the game gets better.”
Burmistrov had a golden chance for the go-ahead goal with under three to play in regulation, but after taking the pass from Mark Scheifele and staring down the empty net, it was foiled by Anaheim defenceman Hampus Lindholm, who kicked out the right leg to block the yawning cage.
“We have a tendency to open our game up when we get down one or two (goals). You would think, then, that if you’re opening your game up, you’d see great chances at both ends but it never translates to that. … We didn’t do that today,” Maurice said.
“The bench was right after they made it 2-1, they handled it well, and I liked what we had in the third.”
LATE HITS: La Mirada, California’s Chase De Leo made his NHL debut after being recalled from the Manitoba Moose earlier in the day. The 20-year-old finished with three hits in 10 minutes and three seconds of ice time on a line with Andrew Copp and Scott Kosmachuk to start. He was initially credited with an assist on Postma’s goal, but it was later taken away.
Marko Dano (flu) did not dress, necessitating the emergency transaction.
De Leo leads the Moose with 16 goals and 33 points this season.
Fittingly, De Leo’s California home is a mere 20 kilometres from Honda Center. He grew up watching the Ducks, making his debut today even more special.
“It was exciting,” De Leo said. “I had a game in Cleveland last night, so I had a 4:00am wake-up call to get to the airport. I flew into Minneapolis, it was around 6:00am and I was still sleeping in the chair in the airport and (Moose Head Coach) Keith (McCambridge) says, ‘Congratulations, you’re getting the call.’ Obviously there wasn’t much sleep on the plane ride after that.
“I’m super thankful for the opportunity.”
Mathieu Perreault left the game late in the second period after catching and edge, falling awkwardly and slamming his head on the boards.
According to Maurice, he was “fine” after the game, but will be fully assessed tomorrow when the team reports for practice.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com