No Mark Scheifele and no Patrik Laine turned out to be no problem for the Winnipeg Jets on Monday afternoon.
Even though they were playing without two of their best and most impactful offensive stars, the Jets were still able to grind out a hard fought 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames, tying their qualifying round series at one game apiece.
Game 3 of the series will take place on Tuesday in Edmonton (6:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
This was an impressive win for the Jets on two fronts. For one, they absolutely needed this game after a dreadful opener to the series on Saturday night. Falling into an 0-2 hole in the series would have been a daunting mountain to climb in a best-of-five, especially with the current injury situation.
But also because they did exactly what they needed to do to get the win without two key players.
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Connor Hellebuyck gave them a Vezina-worthy performance in net, and several of their depth players stepped forward to help fill the offensive void left by the absence of Scheifele and Laine.
Both players were injured in the Jets’ Game 1 loss. Scheifele was injured when he was hit by the skate of Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, a play that infuriated Jets coach Paul Maurice after the game (he was still mad about it before Game 2 as well). Laine also exited the game late in the third period after he was checked by Sam Bennett.
Filling the offensive void
Adam Lowry played an especially big role on Monday, scoring a goal and an adding an assist on Jansen Harkins‘ first period goal to help the Jets jump out to a 2-0 lead. Lowry has now factored in on three of the Jets’ four goals in the first two games. He had just 10 points in 49 games during the regular season.
Nikolaj Ehlers also came through for the Jets, scoring the game-winning goal in the third period after the Flames had tied it. It was a big goal for Ehlers not only because it broke the tie, but also because it was his first career playoff goal. He has been one of the Jets’ most productive players since becoming a regular in the lineup (he is going to score 25-30 goals every season) but had yet to break through in the playoffs. Entering play on Monday he had gone 22 consecutive playoff games over three postseason appearances without finding the back of the net.
For as great as this win was for the Jets, it has to feel like a massive missed disappointment for the Flames to not be able to win this game.
They had a chance to take a commanding series lead and push an undermanned Jets team to the brink of elimination and they simply did not bring anything close to their “A” game. They did manage to rally to overcome the two-goal deficit to tie the game, but there just wasn’t enough over 60 minutes to fully take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. Now they find themselves facing a pivotal Game 3 on Tuesday night.
(8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets (Series tied 1-1)
Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Jets 3, Flames 2
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames vs. Jets, 6:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*, TBD
• 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.