The Winnipeg Jets had not won a game this season when trailing going into the third, the Washington Capitals had not lost a game this season when leading after two periods. But, all streaks eventually end.
The Jets did not get off to the start they wanted, at least as far as the scoreboard was concerned. Despite a descent first period the Jets came out behind 1-0, and then when Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the first 5:47 of the second to make it 3-0 the comeback hill seemed somewhat steep. The social media was abuzz with those giving the Jets zero chance of a comeback. But just like Tuesday in Pittsburgh when a sequence of events went against the Jets, in Washington it worked the other way.
Ben Maxwell got the Jets on the board with his first of the year in his second game since being summoned from St. John's due to the injury to Nik Antropov. It was his second career goal, his first coming while a member of the Atlanta Thrashers last season after coming over from Montreal in a trade for Brent Sopel. Six seconds after the goal the Jets got more momentum when Jim Slater and Brooks Laich fought. Shortly after the scrap, Bryan Little scored on a rebound to make it a 3-2 game. Toby Enstrom with his ninth point in nine games had his shot hit the post, with the puck landing on the stick of Little, for his 22nd of the year and 11th in his last 22 games.
The Jets outshot the Capitals 17-2 in the third. Coach Claude Noel showed confidence in the fourth line (Spencer Machacek, Maxwell and Tim Stapleton) and was rewarded. With 3:45 remaining in regulation Machacek scored his first NHL goal to tie the game. Machacek has five points in three games since his recall to replace the injured Eric Fehr. Maxwell assisted on the goal.
To overtime they went, and 2:37 in Tim Stapleton, with his second career overtime goal ended it going high glove side for the winner. The win moved the Jets to within four points of both Washington and Buffalo and all of a sudden the struggling Ottawa Senators (just two points ahead of those two teams) are also in the mix. The Jets have a game in hand on all three teams, and play the Sens Monday at MTS Centre.
But first up, the Nashville Predators Saturday to close out the three game trip. (Catch it live on TSN Radio 1290 and TSN.ca/Winnipeg at 6pm ct/7pm et). With the game Monday don't be surprised to see Chris Mason get the start in Nashville. The Jets had 42 shots on goal with Slater and Randy Jones the only Jets to not record a shot on goal.
“I've waited a long time for that goal," Mahacek said after the game. "Coaches showed a lot of confidence in our line and gave us a great opportunity. The Maxwell goal followed by the Slater fight really changed the momentum. I've played with Maxie with St. John's and played with Stapleton with the Chicago Wolves.”
Coach Noel called a time out in the second with the score 2-0 to try and settle his team down. “We needed to shift momentum. We battled and we got back in the game. The Maxwell line was really good. They didn't play a lot but were effective when they were out there. They deserved to be rewarded. Even down three, our belief was good. The Slater fight really sparked us.”