For the third time in five games, the Winnipeg Jets fell behind its opponent 2-0, but this time they were unable to complete the comeback, falling in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 Monday night.
The Jets once again battled back from two goals down to tie the game before Morgan Barron’s younger brother Justin scored the overtime winner for family bragging rights.
The loss ended the Jets three-game home win streak against the Habs. The Canadiens beat the Jets in extra time for the second time this season after a shootout victory back in October.
The Canadiens went 2-for-3 on the man advantage and scored the game winner in O.T. on the power play.
“The 5-on-5 play is very, very good,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “The team play is very, very good. There’s too many games, I can count five or six games, where we lost the game based on specialty teams.
“Listen, it obviously comes down to specialty teams. It’s another game that specialty teams we lost. And that’s what cost us that extra point.”
The Jets finished the night 0-for-2 on the power play.
The Canadiens second goal came with some controversy. The Jets challenged the goal after what they felt was a hand pass. Josh Anderson gloved the puck down and it appeared to barely hit his stick before Christian Dvorak knocked it in, so the goal was allowed to count.
“It’s a fine line,” said goalie Connor Hellebuyck. “Him grabbing it and moving it changed what I was going to do. If he would have just dropped it right when he had it, I would have poked it right off his stick. That’s what I was getting prepared for.
“And then when he threw it forward it kinda threw me for a loop and made me kinda freeze and change what I wanted to do. Then he gets a lucky bounce cause it bounced off the ice and just nicked the top of his stick. So, for me, you hate to see that go in, and not really much you can do about it.”
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Cole Perfetti and Gabriel Vilardi scored goals for the Jets in the loss. Vilardi has now scored four goals in just the last three games.
Josh Morrissey left the game temporarily in the third period after taking a shot off his cheek. He returned with a bloody and swollen face to finish the game.
“Honestly, that’s a scary incident,” said Perfetti. “It’s a hard shot and ramps right up his stick and hits him in the face.
“I just saw his glove and helmet and everything kinda fly off. So it didn’t look good. Luckily it could have been worse. So, luckily it’s just some stitches and a little bit of pain.”
The head coach didn’t know how many stitches Morrissey received.
“It’s gonna be pretty swollen tomorrow,” said Bowness. “Pretty good chance he’s going to have a good shiner tomorrow. But give him full marks for coming back. He’s a tremendous competitor.”
The Jets have gained at least a point in seven of their last eight games and haven’t allowed four goals in 20 consecutive contests.
Neither side could find the back of the net in a fast-moving first period that finished with 7:53 of uninterrupted play. Winnipeg had the best chance when Dylan Samberg hit the post from the point as the Jets carried a 6-5 edge in shots on goal into the second.
The Jets got the game’s first power play early in the second but couldn’t capitalize against the NHL’s 30th-ranked penalty kill.
Montreal then started to control the run of play, leading to the game’s opening goal 4:57 into the middle frame.
Winnipeg failed to clear the puck, leading to a mini 3-on-2 in the Jets’ zone. Jake Evans slid a pass over to Mike Matheson, whose shot was stopped by Hellebuyck, but the rebound bounced off the leg of Anderson and into the open net, much to the delight of the large contingent of Canadiens fans in attendance.
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The Canadiens got their first power play chance in the back half of the second when Brenden Dillon was called for tripping and the Habs took full advantage, though not without some controversy.
Anderson caught a loose puck near the bottom of the faceoff circle to the right of Hellebuyck. He placed the puck on the ice and it bounced over to Dvorak at the back door, who whacked it home to make it 2-0.
It seemed unclear whether Anderson or Hellebuyck touched the puck before Dvorak, so the Jets challenged the goal, believing it was a hand pass.
After a lengthy review, officials confirmed the call of a goal, handing the Habs a second power play that Winnipeg killed off.
In desperate need of a boost before intermission, the red-hot top line of the Jets rose to the occasion. At the end of a long shift, a Morrissey point shot hit a body in front and landed at the side of the net where an exhausted Vilardi potted it past Jake Allen with 56 seconds left in the second.
An early third period power play for Winnipeg turned momentarily costly when Morrissey, defending a 1-on-1 rush from Nick Suzuki, took a puck to the face when a shot from Suzuki ramped up Morrissey’s stick. He immediately dropped his stick, gloves and helmet and bolted to the Jets’ dressing room as blood streamed down his cheek. He missed about ten minutes of game action before returning.
Right after Morrissey returned, his squad tied the game. Allen stopped a Vladislav Namestnikov shot from the high slot but the rebound fell right to the stick of Perfetti at the side of the crease. Perfetti banged it home to level the game with 7:36 remaining, his first goal in seven games.
In the final minute of regulation, with the game still tied, Nikolaj Ehlers was called for tripping, giving the Canadiens 1:33 of power play time to start overtime.
49 seconds into overtime, Matheson and Adam Lowry received offsetting minors, keeping the game at 4-on-3 for 44 more seconds.
The Habs won the ensuing draw and cycled the puck around, leading to Barron ripping a shot high over Hellebuyck’s glove for the game winner.
The Jets return to action Wednesday night at home against Detroit.