The Winnipeg Jets were 0-24-3 when trailing a game after 40 minutes this season. So down 2-1 to the Colorado Avalanche going into the third period Saturday Night was not exactly a “good place” for the Western Conference cellar dwellers to be.
But Drew Stafford dug out a Mark Scheifele rebound and stuffed it past Semyon Varlamov for the tieing goal with 12:34 to play. And just 95 seconds later, rookie Scott Kosmachuk forced a neutral zone turnover and set up Adam Lowry in the high slot for the game winner as the Jets held on for a 3-2 victory.
Going back to last season, it was only the 2nd time in 53 tries the Jets have rebounded to win a game they trailed going into the final period. Lowry says it was a stat he and his team mates were very much aware of. “It’s no secret we’ve struggled coming from behind the last couple of seasons,” said Lowry. “Maybe this is a sign of things to come. For the most part, that entire game, we played pretty consistently and controlled large amounts of play. We’re gonna look to build on that.”
And it didn’t hurt that the winning goal came off a solid defensive play from a rookie in just his 3rd NHL game. “I’ve been trying to play in all three zones,” said Kosmachuk. “So to make a good defensive play there, and turn it over on the offense was awesome.” And Lowry was happy to play a part in getting his new linemate on an NHL scorin summary for the first time. “Being able to help Scott on his first NHL career point, that’s pretty exciting. And for it to be the difference in the game, that was a big goal.”
Mark Scheifele has been scoring a bucketload of big goals lately. And his 22nd of the season on a late second period power play helped the Jets stay the course after allowing a pair of Colorado goals to Erik Johnson and Matt Duchene.only 1:53 apart in the opening 6 minutes of the middle frame. “It shows us if we stick to our game plan, don’t try to open anything up, being down a goal, it shows us our game plan works,” said Scheifele who has 7-4-11 during a 7 game points streak. “Obviously the first few power plays weren’t what we wanted, we were definitely happy to get that one.”
Especially when it ended an 0/16 drought over a nearly 4 2/3rds game stretch. Colorado’s two goal outburst also included a power play marker, ending a string of 17 straight penalty kills by Winnipeg.
But the stat that really mattered was getting rid of that 40 minute deficit “ofer” and Head Coach Paul Maurice was asked about what the difference was Saturday Night compared to the previous 27 failed attempts this season. “The focus was right. There were no secret plays, nobody was trying to break this game open because you didn’t like it being 2-1,” explained Maurice who singled out Scheifele for playing his best game in the last three weeks. Especially with Blake Wheeler suffering from the flue and needing to make multiple trips to the washroom and to have an IV over the course of the game. “It’s a good payoff, they need that. It’s important for their psyche going forward that they keep playing that way.”
And the next test to keep playing that way for the 28-35-5 Jets, winners of just three of their last dozen games, is Monday Night in Vancouver.