It was a night where all the teams in the playoff chase in the Western Conference picked up points with the Winnipeg Jets' 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes being a three-pointer.
With the win, the Jets improve to 10-3-1 under coach Paul Maurice and 5-1 at home since the coaching change. With 21 games remaining, the Jets are now on 64 points and just two out of the final playoff spot. The team plays another divisional game Saturday afternoon in Nashville (You can catch the action live on TSN Jets or listen on TSN 1290.) The Predators sit two points back of the Jets.
Thursday marked the Jets' 35th one-goal game this season, the second highest in the league.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson opened the scoring as he did January 13 when these two teams met at MTS Centre. On that night his goal came at 12:16. In this game it was 12:17 in. In the first meeting, Olli Jokinen tied the game 36 seconds later. Thursday, Blake Wheeler tied it 2:38 later. It was Wheeler's team-leading 23rd of the year. Shots in the first were 11-9 for Phoenix.
The only goal of the second came on a Jets power play, as Bryan Little beat Mike Smith off of a turnover. It was his 19th of the year and sixth powerplay goal of the season. Little now has 48 points on the season, three shy of his tying his career single season high. The shots in the second were 10-7 for the Jets.
Phoenix tied the game on a third period power play following a very weak hooking call on Jim Slater. Both teams had reason to question some of the calls and non-calls in this game. Martin Hanzal buried a rebound for his 15th of the year to send the game to overtime. Shots in the third favoured Phoenix 13-9.
The Coyotes were the better team in overtime and only a number of great saves by Ondrej Pavelec took the game to a shootout. The shots in overtime were 5-1 for Phoenix and 39-29 Coyotes in the game.
Antoine Vermette's shootout marker for the Coyotes was cancelled out by Devin Setoguchi and Olli Jokinen's for Winnipeg as the Jets prevailed.
Vermette had his 10-game point streak snapped, while Andrew Ladd had his five-game point streak snapped. Wheeler has points in 13 of his last 17 games.
In the two games against Phoenix, Pavelec has stopped 52 of 55 shots, is 2-0 and has a save percentage of .945. Jacob Trouba led the Jets in ice time at 26:39, while Little took a team high 24 face-offs, winning 13.
Jim Slater and Evander Kane both returned to the line-up, Slater has been out since mid-October, while Kane missed the last six before the break.
"It was a slugfest for the puck, but the game was better than I thought it would be after the layoff," commented Maurice post-game. "Teams generated good looks, there were good saves. I liked our goaltending and in the end he delivered two points. We were a little uptight after the 2-2 goal. But I don't complain about getting two points. That team (Phoenix) played pretty well."
The coach was also impressed by his goalie, Pavelec.
"They had three prime chances in overtime," said Maurice. "He wins the game with the saves in overtime and the shootout. He really competed."