In a big test against the NHL’s best in Boston, the Winnipeg Jets availed themselves well but came out on the losing end of a 3-2 decision Thursday night.
The Jets scored twice in the first period and took a 2-0 lead, but the Bruins stormed back to score three unanswered goals, including Nick Foligno’s go-ahead marker with 8:52 left in the third period.
The Bruins moved to an incredible 18-0-2 at home, while the Jets remained a point back of the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division.
“That’s the best team in the league right now and we battled them right to the end,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness, “Our guys worked very hard, they did, they battled hard, and that’s all you can ask.”
Mark Scheifele got the visitors off to a fantastic start just 1:58 in when he found himself all alone in front of Jeremy Swayman and buried his 20th of the season off a great play from Cole Perfetti.
The goal was also the 250th of Scheifele’s career.
Winnipeg added to their lead at the 7:20 mark when a Josh Morrissey point shot grazed off Jansen Harkins in front of the net and past Swayman.
Boston had a great chance to get on the board when David Pastrnak got loose on a breakaway but Connor Hellebuyck made a great glove save to keep the slate clean.
The Jets had a 13-10 edge in shots after the strong first period, and while the Bruins came out of the gates hard in the second, they couldn’t get one past Hellebuyck until a fluky bounce turned the game around.
With just under eight minutes left in the second, Nick Foligno dumped the puck harmlessly around the boards into the Winnipeg end, but as Hellebuyck ventured out of his crease to play it, the puck took a funny bounce off a stanchion and skittered right onto the stick of Pastrnak in the slot.
The Bruins’ leading scorer put it into the wide open net to make it 2-1 as the tide began to turn Boston’s way.
Soon after the goal, Scheifele was called for tripping and on the power play, Jake DeBrusk redirected a Pastrnak shot over the shoulder of Hellebuyck to tie the game with exactly five minutes left in the period.
The Jets weren’t able to generate much offence as the Bruins took over the game, but the contest remained tied past the midway point of the third.
That changed with just under nine minutes left when Foligno got free in the slot and ripped a wrister past Hellebuyck to give Boston its first lead of the game.
Winnipeg tried to mount a charge with the net empty and with just seconds to go, Kyle Connor got a great look from in close but he put the puck wide to seal their fate.
“They got a little more sustained pressure, got some more chances, got in the O-zone more than we did,” said Scheifele. “We kind of got hung up at the blueline and not enough forechecks with speed.
Hellebuyck did his best to keep his team in the contest, stopping 36 shots while Swayman settled down after a tough start and made 25 saves in the win as Boston improves to 18-0-2 at home this season.
The Jets will play their final game before a short Christmas break Friday in Washington. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB starts at 4 p.m. with the puck dropping just after 6.
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