The Winnipeg Jets probably did not deserve to get a point out of tonight’s action vs. Montreal, but they also didn’t deserve to lose the way they did.
Max Pacioretty scored the game-winning goal on a four-on-three power play at 307 of overtime. It was the 50th shot of the contest for Montreal, who held the Jets to just 23, and it came moments after Pacioretty interfered with Dustin Byfuglien.
Now, lest you think I’m just being a homer here (although I am) it’s worth noting some other voices in the hockey world were as surprised by the non-call as I was.
Nice comeback win for Habs. But that non-call was horri-awful.
Maurice should take the fine tonight and go off.
— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) November 5, 2017
And then this from Darren Dreger:
Interference. All day long. https://t.co/XRpm4epFjz
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 5, 2017
How both officials missed that, with one standing literally feet away from the infraction, is something of a mystery but the bad way the Jets lost the game shouldn’t overshadow the bad way they played it. No matter how hot your goaltender is, getting outshot 50-24 is not a winning formula.
The Jets got off to a halfway solid start, potting a goal on the man advantage courtesy Patrik Laine, who is seemingly finding hockey less hard these days. The goal was the first of three Jets power-play markers on the night.
Montreal got the game back to evens before the period was out, however, with Andrew Shaw scoring his first of two on the night as it went off his stick in front and snuck behind Hellebuyck. That was the first of two Montreal goals with the man advantage as well.
All in all, it was far from the worst period of hockey the Jets played in this one. That dubious distinction belonged (as usual) to…
The fact that Winnipeg came out of this period tied at two was a minor miracle. The Habs were all over them from the word go, forechecking hard and outshooting the Jets by an embarrassing 16-4 margin.
The Habs only goal in this period, however, was a bit cheap. Hellebuyck appeared to have the puck trapped in his glove, but Andrew Shaw batted it out and stuffed it in. It’s not something you see very often, but Hellebuyck wasn’t happy about it after the game.
— Scott Billeck (@ScottBilleck) November 5, 2017
Regardless, the goal put the Habs in front for the first time in the game. Give the Jets credit, however, for making their limited chances count. Brandon Tanev made a nice pass from behind the net to Andrew Copp, who had most of the net to shoot at as Montoya was looking the wrong way and made no mistake to square the score.
By this point, Montreal had already put 33 shots on goal to the Jets twelve, and the Jets were really going to need some jump in their step in the final frame.
The Jets PP, suddenly clicking, came alive again as Nikolaj Ehlers wired a shot past Al Montoya that hit the back bar so hard it came straight out again and nearly fooled a few people in the rink. A quick review determined Ehlers had indeed sniped, and the Jets led 3-2.
The captain Blake Wheeler put what should’ve been the final nail in the Habs coffin later in the period, busting down the left wing side with speed as we’ve seen him do so many times on the power play and sneaking one past Montoya for a 4-2 lead.
As badly outshot as they were, the Jets didn’t have any bad goals. Laine’s goal was a Laine shot from the slot, from where he has an average to pretty good success rate I’d say, Tanev’s pass to Copp that fooled Montoya completely, Ehlers absolute snipe, and Wheeler’s patented left-to-right net drive. Not a stinker in the bunch for Montoya.
The Habs wouldn’t go away, however, earning a point they most certainly deserved with two quick markers. Tomas Plekanec took a pass in the high slot from Brendan Gallagher and buried it to cut the lead in half, then Jeff Petry fired a sneaky shot through traffic after the Jets had trouble clearing the puck.
Speaking of trouble clearing the puck…
Whatever you want to say of the OT goal, the circumstances leading up to it were not good. Tyler Myers took an entirely unnecessary cross-checking minor that he knew right away was a mistake. Then, after being interfered with, Byfuglien got back into the play and failed to make the clear. The Canadiens made him pay for it and sealed the deal.
The final shot count reflected the way the game largely went, and which team deserved more to win. As I’m sure you can guess, the stats on this one weren’t pretty.
— Scott Billeck (@ScottBilleck) November 5, 2017
You’re not going to like this stat, but I should probably mention it anyway: Andrew Copp, Brandon Tanev, and Shawn Matthias all had more ice time than Patrik Laine tonight. Yikes.
Still, if you want to glean some positives from this game, there’s plenty to be had. The Jets made their chances count, and the big guns all kept firing, with the exception of Mark Scheifele who had a quiet follow-up to his big night against Dallas.
The biggest positive, however, is that last year I’m certain the Jets would’ve lost this in regulation. Moan about the loser point all you like, but a few more of those would’ve had the Jets much closer to the playoff conversation in 2016-17.
The ability to force games to overtime and pull points out of games you really don’t have any business getting points out of is an important one for any team that wants to see playoff hockey. For the Jets, who kept their grip on second place in the division despite having a game in hand on several teams around them, it was a definite positive tonight.
Next up, a Dallas Stars squad that will be gunning for revenge on Monday night. Here’s coach Paul Maurice post game.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) November 5, 2017