The Winnipeg Jets needed this one.
They entered Saturday’s Heritage Classic against the Calgary Flames in Regina, Saskatchewan having lost five of their past six games and were less than five minutes away from heading to what would have almost certainly been another frustrating defeat.
But a Josh Morrissey goal with 4:11 to play sent the game to overtime where Bryan Little scored the game-winner to lift the Jets to a 2-1 win.
What stood out about this game? Here are three quick takeaways.
1. This was the result this game deserved. First, the Jets played really well. They ended up finishing the game with a pretty significant edge in shots on goal and were right there with the Flames all night.
There is also the fact that the Flames’ only goal — and for a while it looked like it might have been the only goal in the game — came with a little bit of controversy.
Elias Lindholm put the Flames on the board in the second period only to have the Jets challenge the play because they felt Matthew Tkachuk kept the play alive with a high stick. The play was reviewed and at first glance it looked like it may have been a high-stick, but the NHL determined that it agreed with the on-ice officials ruling that Tkachuk’s stick “was at or below the normal height of his shoulders when he contacted the puck prior to Elias Lindholm’s goal.” (Official wording from the league right there.)
It infuriated Jets coach Paul Maurice and the Jets’ bench, but that was the call.
Here is the play. You be the judge on whether or not that is a high stick on the puck or not.
Fortunately for the Jets they were able to rally and take the two points.
2. Even with the win the Jets’ offense has still cooled off. If the Jets are going to have a chance to compete this season with the current state of their defense they are going to need their forwards and offense to carry a lot of the weight. Lately that has been a struggle. Even with Saturday’s win the Jets have managed just nine goals in their past six games, and have not scored more than two goals in a game in two weeks. It is not a surprise they have lost four of those games. Even in the two games they did win offense has been nearly impossible to come by. Their 1-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers was a shootout win (meaning they scored zero goals in regulation or overtime) and even on Saturday they managed just two goals. It could just be a simple cold streak, or it could still be the result of the undermanned defense not being able to get the puck to the forwards to generate offense. A lot of offense in the NHL starts with your blue line. Either way, two goals (or less) per game is not going to cut it for anyone long-term.
3. Adam Lowry‘s hit on Oliver Kylington was scary. Tough moment at the end of the second period when Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry was penalized for boarding Calgary’s Oliver Kylington with a scary hit from behind into the glass. The way Kylington dropped to the ice and remained down was concerning, but the good news for him and the Flames is that he was able to return to the game. Lowry was given a two-minute minor for boarding. It will no doubt be reviewed for supplemental discipline by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, but they have been fairly quiet so far this season so Lowry may be able to get away with just the penalty.