WINNIPEG – Give round 1 to Patrik Laine.
In a game that was billed as a showdown between this summer’s top two draft picks, it was the second-overall selection that helped his team complete another heart-stopping comeback win.
Laine’s hat-trick goal in overtime was the winner as the Winnipeg Jets stunned the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in a game Toronto led 4-0.
Fittingly, Auston Matthews was stopped by Michael Hutchinson on a breakaway just before the rush that led to Laine’s winner. The top pick had an assist in the game.
While the Jets are certainly ecstatic over the win, there are still many concerns; namely, the fourth straight game to start the season that they have allowed four goals. They cannot expect to keep climbing out of massive holes.
But give the team credit for never quitting. After surrendering two power-play goals in an eight-second span in the second, Tyler Myers scored to make it 4-1 heading into the third.
Exactly one minute into the third, Laine spun around and snapped a wrister past Frederik Andersen to make it 4-2. Mark Scheifele would make it a one-goal game with plenty of time left, setting the stage for another late push.
With the goalie pulled and on the power-play, Laine sent the crowd into a frenzy with his second of the game off a wonderful feed from Nikolaj Ehlers. The Jets have now scored three goals with their goalie pulled already this season, an area they struggled mightily in last year.
The teams traded chances in overtime with Hutchinson making a number of big saves before Laine’s wrister on a 2-on-1 went high over the glove of Andersen.
“I’ve never seen anybody score goals like Patrik Laine does in practice. Ever. In 20 years,” raved head coach Paul Maurice. “There are guys that are good shooters in practice and they can’t seem to find a way to translate that into a game, but he has a gift. No question about it. It’s a different shot.”
Leading up to the game, Laine downplayed any rivalry with Matthews, and after the game he remained fairly diplomatic. As for the ‘Laine’s better!’ chants echoing through the MTS Centre?
“Yeah, I heard something, and that sounds pretty good. But that’s their opinion and I’m not going to say anything about that,” the young Finn explained. “It’s the best league in the world and I scored three goals. It’s just amazing to help my team win with those three goals.”
Hutchinson’s night got off to a rough start but he wound up making 36 saves in the win.
“Hutchy kept us in there, could have easily been 7-0,” Scheifele said. “But he made some big saves down the stretch, especially that one on Matthews [in overtime]. We wouldn’t have won without those saves.”
The Jets are now off until Sunday’s Heritage Classic game against the Oilers.